Student loans provider Erudio has now admitted it incorrectly sent letters to graduates quoting defunct regulations, after previously telling MoneySavingExpert.com it wasn't aware it had done so.
Earlier this month we called for former students to let us know if they'd received a letter from Erudio quoting 1997 regulations, instead of 1998 regulations. (See the Received a letter from Erudio quoting outdated regulations? Let us know MSE News story.)
We received a number of responses to our call, as well as copies of documentation, which seemingly proved the issue was more widespread than Erudio had let on.
But the lender, which took over around 250,000 1990-1998 loans from the Student Loans Company in 2013, has today confirmed that "a small number – 10's of people" have indeed received similar incorrect letters.
Erudio does however add that while the paperwork may have been wrong, customers' accounts have been operated under the correct regulations and that the incorrect information being sent out does not affect those completing deferral forms now.
An Erudio spokesman says: "We are aware that a small number of customers have in the past received a letter from Erudio stating that The Education (Student Loan) Regulations 1997 apply to their loans. This is not the case, and we apologise for this typographical error.
"To confirm, The Education (Student Loans) Regulations 1998 apply to every loan, regardless of whether the student took out the loan before 1998, in 1998 or after 1998. This lettering error will not have impacted customers' accounts as we have always managed them in accordance with the correct regulations and we apologise again for any confusion this may have caused."
What was the issue?
Our call for evidence came following a post on our forum from an Erudio customer saying they'd received a letter from Erudio referencing The Education (Student Loans) Regulations 1997, which stated that they must not be earning more than £1,316/month in order to be eligible for deferment – this is where graduates earning under a certain threshold can put off repaying their loan.
Other forum users were quick to point out that the deferment figure quoted by Erudio seemed to refer to the monthly deferment income from 1997. Currently it's £2,227/month or £26,727/year (pre-tax), not the £1,316/month figure quoted.
Further, our canny forum users also pointed out that Erudio was quoting old 1997 regulations, which were revoked when The Education (Student Loans) Regulations 1998 came into force on 1 March that same year.
Initially, Erudio told us that depending on which year students signed their loan agreement, they would either be subject to the 1997 or the 1998 regulations. It later backtracked and said the information given was incorrect and that students would be subject to the 1998 regulations, irrelevant of when they signed their loan agreement
At the time we also asked Erudio whether other customers had received similar letters but the lender told us it would need the customer's details to look into the matter further. It did however originally tell us that it wasn't aware that it had sent out incorrect letters.
Delay in deferral forms being sent out
Separately Erudio has also come under fire from a number of graduates who are yet to receive their Deferment Application Forms (DAFs), leaving them with less than six weeks to apply to defer repaying their loans for another year.
Erudio's website says anyone in deferment will automatically receive a new DAF pack eight weeks before their current deferment period ends. But a statement published online today says there has been a delay in sending these out.
The statement says: "We are aware that a number of customers coming towards the end of their current deferment period have experienced a delay in receiving their Deferment Application Form (DAF) – these have now been issued.
"These are normally sent out eight weeks before a customer's current deferment period is due to finish. These forms are sent out in batches and unfortunately some of these were delayed in sending. These have now been distributed and customers should have still received them in plenty of time to allow for completion and return before the end of their current deferment period.
"We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused. If you think you may have been impacted by this delay and believe you might not be able to return your form before the end of your deferment period, please get in touch by calling 0333 003 7188 and we will be able to assist."
For any Erudio customer currently not in deferment but who believes they're eligible to apply as they earn under the £26,727 yearly earnings threshold, you can request an application pack by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0333 003 7188.