Just a heads up to UK graduates that the interest rate on student loans has increased today from 2.4% to 4.8%. This will remain the case until 31st August 2008.
I don't think there's really much of a case for complaint given that the terms and conditions have stated all along that the 'interest' on the loan is tied in to the Retail Price Index. But the point that the information is poorly communicated is a valid one.
The only reason I'm aware of the change is that I earn less than the threshold for repayment, but I've been wondering for a while whether I should start making voluntary repayments to get shot of some of my debt. For the last year the interest rate has been 2.4% so it made more sense to put an spare money into savings instead. I figured that there would be a bit of a hike this year, because of general increases in interest rates/inflation, so I've been keeping an eye out for news of a change. Finding out the information isn't very easy though. It takes quite a bit of digging around on the Student Finance Direct site to find the right page and even then the information isn't very well highlighted. But then I don't think they're very interested in helping you keep track of your debt. For example, here's one of the FAQ answers:
Finding out your balanceThanks for that. Couldn't have figured that out for myself, oh no. Why can't they enable online accounts that can be checked without too much hassle? It's not like the Student Loans Company have exactly inspired confidence over the years, with delays in loan payments, mislaid repayments, concerns (albeit mistaken) that students are being overcharged, and instances of people still being charged after their debts are cleared.
You can estimate your balance in between statements by looking at your most recent statement and taking off any deductions noted on your wage slips and P60.
I guess the assumption is that students are too lazy/ignorant to check up on these things. I hope that's not actually true.