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Loan crisis: how the credit crunch has hit postgraduates

Sallie Mae’s exit from the loan market has left post grads like Victor Schonfeld stranded

Thursday, 19 June 2008

One morning last week, nine months into my PhD, I discovered by accident that the loan which made my degree feasible, and which I had taken out for a year, was no longer available after that. I’d been looking into transferring to a university that might better match the evolution of my PhD in English and I mentioned to their fees office that my PhD has full funding from Sallie Mae UK. “Oh, those loans were ceased, we got an email,” came the casual reply. “Can you self-fund?”

I rushed to phone my own university’s financial office for enlightenment. “Yes, well, that is a problem,”

How would I pay my tuition fees and living costs in September and in the years to follow? I’d borrowed for the first year and was expecting to fund myself through the remaining years in the same way. How would I cover those without help? Though older than the average student, my financial circumstances weren’t much better, and I would be no more able to shoulder the full outlay for a PhD than students at the beginning of their first career.

I confirmed with the lender that the scheme, which had enabled me to embark on academia’s toughest challenge, had been terminated more than three months earlier. Sallie Mae, a major American lender that set up in Britain just two years ago, had not told borrowers that they were no longer lending in Britain to postgraduates. Nor was there any warning from Royal Holloway, the University of London College responsible for certifying my annual costs and delivering semi-annual cheques. The financial office explained that they’re overloaded with student crises and had trusted Sallie Mae to inform its borrowers.

Of the universities I questioned, I found only one had sought to alert Sallie Mae-funded students that anything untoward had occurred. Sallie Mae UK loans still feature prominently on British university websites, though all 130 universities registered with the scheme received the lender’s 28 February email announcing the loan scheme had ended “effective immediately”, owing to the US credit crisis.

I phoned the British Office of Fair Trading who had licensed Sallie Mae to operate in Britain. The loan papers said so. I pointed out that the loans had been advertised as available for the whole of a degree’s costs. The OFT official suggested that if there was evidence of mis-selling it could be emailed to an enquiries address. Read more….

Source:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/higher/loan-crisis-how-the-credit-crunch-has-hit-postgraduates-849612.html

THINK CAREFULLY BEFORE SECURING OTHER DEBTS AGAINST YOUR HOME. YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON A MORTGAGE OR ANY OTHER DEBT SECURED ON IT.