HMRC student loan refund could get you back £1000s you've overpaid without knowing

HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) letter head surrounded by British bank notes and coins.
-Credit: (Image: marcyano- Getty)

You might remember last year, when former students with student loans were urged to check if they can reclaim £100 or even £1,000s, by (MSE) founder Martin Lewis in 2023. It came after an MSE investigation found that over a million people wrongly overpaid their loans the year before, and you can still reclaim it back now if you haven't got round to doing it just yet.

There have been reports of people receiving up to £3,773 back- and the Reclaim Students Loan Guide, according to the 2022 tax year, over a million university leaves overpaid their student loans. According to Money Saving Expert, the most common reasons why this happens can be down to incorrect details or processing by you, your employer or the Student Loans Company.

According to the 2022/23 figures, 833,000 repaid loans despite not earning enough in the tax year. So if you're thinking this could be you, this is what you need to do. For money-saving tips, sign up to our Money newsletter here

READ MORE: DWP to send millions of people important letters this month

READ MORE: DWP universal credit claimants to get higher payments from this week

If it is feasible, it is best to gather old payslips, your payroll number and a PAYE reference number. But if you don't have those, that doesn't mean it put you off, this can often be done in a phone call.

There's no time limit here either, so even if it was 10 years ago, there is no reason why you can't do it now. If you've overpaid your student loan, how you get a refund will depend on what sort of overpayment it is. In all situations to get the money back it's important your contact information and bank details are up-to-date.

How to get a refund and what you should do apparently depends on what kind of overpayment it is, but the most important thing is that your contact information and bank details are up to date.

The Money Saving Expert website explains: "Below threshold refunds – wait to be contacted: If you've overpaid, unlike previously, you no longer need to fill in a form to request a refund if your income was below the repayment threshold.

"If you think you're due a refund for the 2023/24 tax year, hold tight. SLC can only let you know if you're due a refund for the previous tax year when your earnings information has been received from HMRC.

"It will contact you to advise you are due a refund, then all you need to do is sign in to your online repayment account and select ‘request a refund’. As part of this process, SLC will check for any refunds from previous tax years you might be owed. Once you've been contacted and you've requested a refund through your online account, it will be processed in 28 days and the money will get paid into your bank account - so make sure your details are correct.

"If you need a refund from any other tax year but not 2023/24, you can request this through your online account now.

"Credit balance refunds – don't need to do anything: If you've paid over your loan balance and additional payments are taken, you're due a credit balance refund. You don't need to do anything for this, if SLC can verify your bank account is still active and used by you, a refund will automatically be paid into your account. Meaning it's important to keep your contact information, including bank details and email address up-to-date.

"Incorrect repayment plan refunds – need to call SLC: If you're reclaiming because you think you're on the wrong repayment plan, you should have checked what plan you're on with your employer or ex-employer first and double-check this doesn't correspond with the plan you should be on (if your employer won't help, see the quick questions below).

"You will need to contact SLC to get your wrong repayment plan refund processed. You can call on 0300 100 0611 (for Wales it's 0300 100 0370 and +44 141 243 3660 from overseas).

"Started repaying too soon refunds – need to call SLC: If you have started repaying before you are due to (pre-statuary repayment due date), you need to contact SLC. You can call on 0300 100 0611 (for Wales it's 0300 100 0370 and +44 141 243 3660 from overseas) to get your refund processed. But bear in mind that phone lines can be busy, so be prepared to wait.

"When you get through, explain your situation and ask to reclaim the money you're owed. To make the process smoother, before ringing see if you can dig out any old payslips, your payroll number, and/or your PAYE reference number. If you don't have these and think you may have overpaid, it's still worth giving it a go - though it may take longer.

"In addition, there are no restrictions on how far back you can claim, so while many reclaiming will be recent graduates, there's nothing to stop you doing this even if you overpaid years ago."

There have been many cases where people have been successful, and claimed large sums of cash back, such as Fiona, who wrote to the Money Saving Expert in October 2023, saying: "Thank you so much. I knew something wasn’t right when I lodged my tax returns and reading Martin’s article was the catalyst for a sustained attempt to work out what had happened. I received £3,773 back."

There are more details on how you can pay your loan back here.