More than £28 million in overpaid student loans in England is being held by the government, research has shown.
Research Professional News found that repayments continued to be taken from the accounts of more than 510,000 loanees since 2010 even after the debt had been repaid in full.
The over-payments averaged at around £600 per person.
Most of it was paid back, but £28.5 million was never claimed and has been kept by the government.
Why did so many people overpay?
The repayments were automatically deducted from graduates’ salaries each month, and, in some cases, these deductions did not cease once the repayments have been completed.
The Student Loans Company has said that it is in the process of contacting anybody who has overpaid so that refunds can be arranged.
The Department for Education has also reassured other former students that over-payments in the future are now less likely, thanks to improved data sharing. Debts that have been overpaid include those incurred on money borrowed for both tuition fees and living costs.
How to tell if you have overpaid
If your annual income is below a certain threshold, you should not be paying back any of your student loan at all.
These thresholds depend on when you went to university. Plan 1, for graduates who started university before 2012, sets this threshold at £18,935 per annum.
For those who started university in 2012 or later, the threshold is £25,275.
If a deduction was taken from your salary when you were earning less than the applicable threshold, you can ask for a refund.
You can check this by looking at your payslips and seeing if any deductions were made to pay the SLC.
If you earn above the threshold and believe that you could have paid back more than you owe, you can check your latest statement from the Student Loans Company. You can do this by logging in on their website.
The SLC should send you a letter each year telling you your student loan balance. You should be able to work out how long it should take you to repay by looking at the latest balance left to pay and looking at how much you pay per month on your payslip.
If you think you have fully paid your student loan and your payslips say that money is still being taken out, then you need to contact and ask for a refund.
The SLC should also notice this and contact you, however this can sometimes not happen if they do not have your latest contact details. The company has said that this loss of contact is a major reason for the unpaid loans amounting to the reported £28.5m.
How to reclaim over-payments on student loans
To reclaim, simply call the SLC on 0300 100 0611 (or +44 141 243 3660 from overseas).