Saturday, April 19, 2008 Student Finance Direct

TTG reckons her 5 minute logo is quite fitting

With still no pennies in her piggy bank but plenty in Brown's pink coffer, TTG decided to write an angry email to her chums at studentfinancedirect, the bastards behind my poverty. Here is the letter, entrails and all.

[F]ART ID: Some twelve pointless numbers

Saturday, April 14, 2008,

Dear whoever it may concern or perhaps loan sharks would be a better term,

In your helpful leaflet on how to make a complaint, you suggest that “problems can usually be settled most quickly and easily by simply telephoning the department you have been dealing with” but I beg to differ. Rather than waste my day sitting on hold with phone attached to my scalp, I thought it better use to write this email as I have more important things to do such as find spare crumbs to eat and revise for exams – a situation made even more the worse thanks to your complete disregard for the humans behind the numbers to whom you dish insufficient cash, sporadically and belated.

As you probably won’t know, I am a final year student who instead of concentrating on revision, dissertations and exams at this crucial time can only preoccupy about her state of financial affairs as surprise, surprise the lovely individuals who deal with our loans have not stopped to consider that a cash injection should coincide with the exam period. Now, like so many other students who are bound and survive only by the meagre offerings of the bone collectors at student finance direct, I begin to wonder what ever was the point of embarking on a degree that will not grant a job, that has left me broke beyond repair and heavily indebted to the state.

I believed, perhaps idealistically that with your ties to the Government’s higher education department that you would have a shared responsibility to nurture the next generation of skilled workers.

Because it takes your diligent team around ten days to respond at best, here are my suggestions to help others when they are hooked, lined and sinkered for an idyllic dream of success and livelihood that does not exist.

1) One date for all – All students irrespective of their location, whether their loans are assessed or not should be given a simple date on when to expect their loan. I understand that because of “security” that you give random dates and leave the recipients in the complete dark. But be practical, who would want to steal a student loan, it’s a burden to bear and students aren’t exactly rolling in cash.

2) Publish said dateContinuing in the same strand as my last point, this date should be available to all and perhaps even put on the website or sent to students via letter in advance preferably. The ART ID system is shamelessly bureaucratic – what average person, let alone a student, is in near proximity to such codes, secret answers, questions when they make a call and who in their right mind would be able to remember them?

3) Contacting student finance direct should be made simpler – I feel you should be able to complain or make a query without having to delve into door high piles of paperwork. Perhaps you could require official identification instead such as passport number or driving license if worried about imposters.

4) Consider students from poorer backgrounds in futureThere should be provision for students who cannot depend on their families for support if loan hasn’t yet come –especially for freshers as often university accommodation for the term has to be paid in full before classes as well as a deposit. Please bear this in mind in future.

If I haven’t provided enough information for you to identify myself, I’m afraid my internet password, my secret internet password, my answer, my secret answer, my secret question and the rest are too obscure to remember.

I wait with impatience for your slow reply,

Kind regards,

Francesca Preece

* Anyone prepared to make some bets on how long it takes them to send a generic email?

UPDATE: TTG bets 11 days judging by this email:

Thank you for your email dated 19 April 2008.

We administer student loans in accordance with the Student Loans Regulations, which have been set by parliament. We have no discretion over the application of the regulations. Your concerns about policy, such as the level of funding awarded to students and the financial support offered to students from poorer backgrounds, should be addressed to our governing body, the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) directly. You can contact them at

Your comments concerning the dates that payments are made to students have been noted. We work closely with universities and colleges to establish the dates that courses start. We schedule payment of student support on the basis of the term dates that we have been provided. If you think that the dates on which you have been paid do not relate to your own course dates then please advise me and I will be happy to investigate this on your behalf.

I am sorry that you have experienced difficulties with the ART ID system. However, the security of our customer’s data is of paramount importance. We advise our customers to ensure that they keep their ART ID, password and secret answer safe, as this information is required to access your account online and when you call us. If you have forgotten your password or secret answer you can have new security details sent to your e-mail address by clicking on ‘Forgotten your details?’ from the login page on the Student Finance Direct website.

I am sorry for any difficulties you have experienced when you have tried to contact Student Finance Direct. We are currently reviewing the methods of contact available to our customers and plan to offer an improved service to all our customers once this review is complete.

Thank you for taking the time to bring your concerns to my attention. If you require any further information then please contact me.

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