Many students are not aware that if their application to Student Finance England (“SFE”) is rejected, this can be appealed.
An appeal is when an individual makes a formal request to the SFE requesting them to review their decision by submitting appeal grounds.
The SFE do not charge individuals to appeal their decision, however, there may be solicitors’ fees involved if you choose to instruct a solicitor to draft your appeal grounds.
it is important to remember that the Student Loans Company (SLC) is a public body and an individual’s entitlement to funding is administered by legislation laid down by the government. The SLC is obliged to apply the rules to the letter, however they are afforded a small amount of discretion and ‘The Student Finance England, Assessing Eligibility Guidance’ for caseworkers clearly stipulates that those caseworkers should not apply a general rule of thumb to all applications, and that each application should be considered on its individual merits. However, as with most organisations, rules are not interpreted correctly, and a general blanket decision is applied which can lead to a rejection of an application.
There are three stages of an appeal –
STAGE 1 – the appeal will be reviewed by the SLC’s team of caseworkers. If the appeal is rejected at stage 1, you can appeal at stage 2.
STAGE 2 – the appeal will be reviewed by the relevant Head of Service. If the appeal is rejected at this stage, you can appeal at stage 3.
STAGE 3 – the appeal will be reviewed by an Independent Assessor.
The Independent Assessor is impartial and has Terms of Reference agreed by the Department for Education.
Each stage of the appeal has timelines the SLC work towards, although this is not always possible, and the clock can run over. The SLC states that an acknowledgement of receiving your appeal will be sent within five working days on receipt of the appeal with a full response to be sent within 15 working days.
If your appeal is successful at any of the stages, their notification to you will inform you of the next steps.
How to submit a stage 1 appeal
There is an appeal template form which can be downloaded from the government website. This form would need to be completed and sent to the relevant address along with the appeal grounds and supporting evidence, if any.
The appeal can be sent either by email to email@example.com or by post to Formal Appeals, Memphis Building, Lingfield Point, P.O. Box 226, Darlington, DL1 9GA.
It is important to note that if sending a large volume of papers by email, the same should also be sent by post to assist the caseworkers in case of any issues opening the file. This should be indicated on the email to ensure a smooth process takes place and can help in avoiding any delays.
For security purposes, the SLC will not access any third-party sites to view, download, save or print your appeal paperwork such as Dropbox or One Drive. So, if sending a link to your appeal via email, you must also ensure a hard copy of the papers is sent by post and notification should be given to the appeals department to ensure a smooth process takes place and can help in avoiding any delays.
If you require legal advice on your rights as an eligible student or require assistance on your appeal at any of the stages, please contact Summerfield Browne : 0116 208 1495.
Author: Zainab Zaeem-Satar, Summerfield Browne Solicitors
DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances. This article is merely a general comment on the relevant topic. If specific advice is required in connection with any of the matters covered in this article, please speak to Summerfield Browne Solicitors directly.