Chief Executive, Paula Sussex explains why SLC is currently busier than normal, and what you can do to avoid waiting to speak to us on the phone

Data released by UCAS last week shows record numbers of students are set to enter higher education this year. This data confirms the picture that SLC was already seeing – that demand for higher and further education has grown significantly throughout the pandemic.

Last year, SLC saw its largest ever year-on-year increase in new student finance applications, and already this year numbers have increased again. SLC exists to enable people to invest in their futures through further and higher education – so at a time when demand is increasing, our role is critical in facilitating access.

But the reality of a significant increase in demand in a relatively short period is that we are busier than we normally would be at this point in the application cycle. Our absolute priority is getting as many applications as possible processed and ready-to-pay by term start, including those who applied late (after our application deadlines). Last year, we had a record number of applications fully processed and ready to pay by term start, and we’re hoping to beat that record this year.

Although our deadlines have passed and term start is less than two months away, it’s still not too late to apply for student finance. If you or someone you know is intending to study this year and hasn’t already submitted their student finance application – do so now. Even if you’re not certain of your course, it’s better to apply for finance now and change your course details later. We will do our best to ensure that all eligible students have some funding in place by term start, or as close to term start as possible. That’s why it’s so important to apply now and submit your evidence promptly, as the longer you wait to apply or submit evidence the less time we have to get your funding paid at term start.

With more applications to process, we are also currently seeing a very high volume of calls and some callers are having to wait longer than we would like to speak to us. We know this is frustrating, so below are some helpful tips to avoid a long wait on the phone:

  • Don’t call us – we’ll call you!

    Remember it can take 6 to 8 weeks to process an application. There is no need to contact us during this time to check on your application status. We will contact you if we need anything further. Applicants can also check their application status online and view a ‘to do list’ of any outstanding actions they need to take.

  • Find the answer online first

    Take advantage of the information and resources provided online – these resources are continually updated to respond to the needs of students and their parents and partners as they progress through the application cycle. Students should visit our FAQs and follow SFE or SFW on social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) to stay up to date with the very latest information. Are you supporting your child or partner’s student finance application? Read our guide for sponsors here. Are you going through Clearing? Read our guide for students going through Clearing here

  • Only send us the evidence we ask for, and submit that evidence promptly

    Have we asked you to submit evidence? We have published guidance and a short video which explains how to do this. If we ask for evidence, send it promptly; and don’t send us more than we have asked for as this will mean it takes longer for us to process your application.

  • Calling isn’t the only way to get in touch

    We also provide full customer service via our social media channels. So message us directly via SFE’s Twitter and Facebook channels. You’ll normally get a response on the same day, and you won’t have to wait on the phone.

  • If you do need to call, call at a quieter time

    Our phone lines are open every day. Saturdays and Sundays are our quietest days on the phone. Mondays are always our busiest days and we tend to also be busy weekdays after 10:30. So, if you do need to call us, try to avoid these busier times.

Published 15 July 2021