A number of university leavers are being offered the chance to pay off their student loans for 50% less.
Erudio – the firm that managed student finance between the years of 1990 and 1998 – has been writing to graduates and asking them if they would like to settle their loan early, it has emerged.
The people being targeted are those who earn below the repayment threshold, and the letters state that if they pay off half their balance, their "liability" for the rest of the loan will end.
MoneySavingExpert, who discovered the letters, said it’s seen reports from at least a dozen people who’ve received them.
The letters offer the borrower the chance to "partially settle" the loan for a one-off payment equivalent to half the amount outstanding. Erudio then says it will write off the remainder of the loan and the debt "will be closed".
The recipients are then given short deadline to take up the offer, however think twice before signing any documents in haste.
Not only could you end up paying more, you may also end up limiting your options further down the line.
In the small print, the letters state the offer "may impact" your ability to borrow money from the student loans company again, and suggests borrowers seek independent legal advice first.
Who is affected?
Those who graduated between 1990 and 1997 have the old style "mortgage" type loans which have very different repayment rules to those who graduated after 1998.
With these earlier loans, students only started making repayments once their income hit a certain threshold – currently set at £30,737 a year.
Once they hit this, the amount was then fixed over 60 repayments – but the threshold itself is higher than with today’s loans.
Why you shouldn’t accept Erudio’s offer
It’s important to understand that your loan may be wiped before you fully repay it, and that partially settling your debt could affect your chances of getting credit in the future.
Erudio itself has warned you won’t ever be able to get another student loan from the student loans company if you agree to the deal.
It also asks anyone tempted to contact Erudio on 0333 999 7263 – with a deadline for this stated in the letter.
"The vast majority of people who get these letters should treat it like it’s dirty, hold it by the edge and toss it straight away in the bin. Erudio is trying a fast one on most people," explained Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com.
"If you’ve still got one of these loans it means you haven’t paid it off in at least 20 years. So in most cases it’s unlikely you’ll ever pay any of it back, and even more unlikely you’ll pay it off in full. While it may seem tempting to pay a lower figure than the outstanding balance, the loan will eventually wipe," he added.
"Only those who are temporarily deferring and have a reasonable chance of earning over the £30,737 threshold should consider Erudio’s offer. In that case you should only do it if you’re likely to pay off more than the settlement figure.
"This should not be treated like a Wild West. This is one of the reasons why we have campaigned that if there is a sell-off of any future student loans, the terms and conditions and the entire operating practices of the system should not be changed by the sell-off."
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