MSE News giving false and misleading information to students applying for loans and their parents – Martin Lewis calls for urgent correction

"Incorrect and likely misleading" information about maintenance loans in England on could lead to a material number of students not getting the full amount they're entitled to. That's why founder Martin Lewis has written to the chief executive of the Student Loans Company – the body responsible for the relevant pages – urging it to fix the errors. 

Martin's full letter below explains the issue in detail. For more info on how student finance works, including in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, see our Student loans mythbusting guide.

Update: 28 July 2023: Since this story was first published in May, the information on has been corrected, and the Student Loans Company has now also confirmed that it's proactively contacting some current students who may have missed out to let them know about the new guidance. This should hopefully mean more students get the full amount of financial support they're entitled to.

If you're a student (or you're supporting a student), and your household income has dropped recently, see below for full info about the issue and what you need to do.

Read Martin's letter

Below is a copy of the original letter sent on 5 May:

Friday 5 May 2023

Dear Chris Larmer, chief executive of the Student Loans Company,
(CC: the right honourable Gillian Keegan MP, secretary of state for education; Baroness Barran MBE, minister for the school system and student finance)

I wanted to write to you concerning incorrect and likely misleading wording on about the current year income assessment for student maintenance loans in England – which allows households who've had a substantial recent drop in income to have it taken into account when the student’s living loan assessment is being decided (meaning the loan will be bigger; a crucial lifeline for many).

I have been informed your organisation is responsible for those pages (if not, please let me know). I am aware one of our users already notified you about this two months ago, and had a reply accepting that it was incorrect. We believe this information has been like this for at least two years.

So I am surprised that the error has still not been fixed, and frankly I am writing this open and public email to ask you to urgently escalate it. I also believe it is appropriate you consider how to retrospectively fix it for those who have struggled financially after being misguided.

The incorrect information is here: (last accessed 5 May 2023). It states:

“You’ll qualify for an assessment if your expected household income after the 15% decrease is between £25,000 and £58,291 a year.

If your household income is more than £58,291 a year but less than £70,040 a year, you may still qualify depending on the student’s circumstances. Check how you’re assessed and paid.

If your total household income is likely to be less than £25,000 a year, you will not be able to get an assessment unless the student needs it to get:

  • a bursary or scholarship from a university or college
  • extra student finance for children or dependent adults”

This information is wrong and/or unclear in two places.

  1. “You’ll qualify for an assessment if your expected household income after the 15% decrease is between £25,000 and £58,291 a year.”

    I presume the reason for the £25,000 rule is students from households that get less will already be getting the full maintenance loan.

    Yet someone could, and likely many would, qualify for a current year income assessment if their household income was less than £25,000 a year after the decrease, if their income was over £25,000 a year in the initial application assessment period. Sudden and substantial drops in income like this are exactly what this rule is meant to help.

  2. "If your total household income is likely to be less than £25,000 a year, you will not be able to get an assessment unless the student needs it to get..." 

    An applicant could qualify if their household income is likely to be less than £25,000 a year, for example if household income was previously above £25,000 a year in the initial application assessment period.

    It would be helpful to clarify that if household income was less than £25,000 a year in the initial application, they would already be receiving the maximum maintenance available, so wouldn’t gain from a current year income assessment.

I note that the Welsh Government avoids this error by making no reference at all to a lower income threshold in its own student finance information.

This incorrect wording will mislead and will have deterred some from applying for this much needed assessment; wrongly assuming they will not qualify.

Ultimately, this will have the biggest impact on the most vulnerable households which already may be experiencing cashflow problems during the cost of living crisis, with students from those households potentially missing out on hundreds, or even thousands of pounds of support that they were absolutely entitled to.

With student finance application deadlines approaching, this may be the first and only opportunity a student and their household have to receive information that a current year income assessment could be available to them – and it’s particularly concerning that this wrong information is linked to from the application form itself.

Please regard this email as a formal request for this issue to be investigated, so that an immediate correction to the website (and any other communications) can be made and measures put in place to prevent this mistake happening in the future. I would be grateful if you could advise on how quickly this problem will be fixed and I would also like to know what you’ll do for those who have already fallen victim to this misinformation.

Yours sincerely,

Martin Lewis

Founder and chair, MoneySavingExpert

The incorrect information has been fixed and its founder Martin Lewis raised this issue with the Student Loans Company (SLC) on 5 May. Since publishing this story, the page in question has been updated as outlined below (you can also read the changes on Martin's Twitter).

In its formal response to Martin's letter, the Student Loans Company confirmed that the incorrect guidance on had been in place since July 2020.

The organisation added that the new wording, shown above, had been tested with a user panel of students and passed those tests.

Chris Larmer, chief executive of the Student Loans Company, said: "I apologise to any customer who may have been affected by this issue and have taken steps to prevent any future reoccurrence."

If your household income has dropped recently, a current year income assessment could mean £100s or even £1,000s more in support

The example below helps to demonstrate how the assessment works, and the difference it can make. It's based on someone studying outside of London and not living with their parents – but the impact is similar regardless of where in England you live or study.

  • Student Sally had a household income of £30,000 in the 2021/22 tax year (which ran from 6 April 2021 to 5 April 2022).

  • Since then, her household income has dropped by 20% to £24,000 a year (in the current 2023/24 tax year).

  • Without the assessment, Sally's maintenance loan for the 2023/24 academic year would be based on the higher income figure and she would get £9,265. 

    Her parents would also be expected to contribute to her living costs – for more on this, see Martin's 'How much should parents give for their children's uni costs?' briefing.

  • But if Sally applies for a current year assessment, she would get the maximum maintenance loan of £9,978 – over £700 more.

To put it simply: if your household income has dropped by at least 15% since the 2021/22 tax year, it could be worth applying for a current year assessment.

How to apply for the assessment

To apply, the person supporting the student's application (for example, a parent or partner) must have already created an online account and given information about a previous tax year.

They then need to:

  1. Fill in a current year income assessment form – either through their online account, or by printing out the paper version (link opens a PDF) and posting it to: Student Finance England, PO Box 210, Darlington, DL1 9HJ.

  2. Important. The person supporting the application needs to keep their income details up to date throughout the year, by completing a new form if their circumstances change. Otherwise, the student may be overpaid – if this happens, the student will have to "pay back any overpayment straight away", according to Student Finance England.

  3. Confirm their actual income at the end of the tax year – they should be sent a separate form to complete in May 2024.

For more information, including how this works in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales (where the system is slightly different), see our Student finance guide.

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