Student loan obscurity skews credit chances

Student loan information lies outside the normal practice of sharing debt and repayment history, meaning commercial lenders cannot assess whether they are lending to people who will struggle to pay back the loan.

Callcredit industry affairs director, Mel Mitchley, explained: “The government has been putting a lot of pressure on lenders to know their customer better and make more responsible lending decisions.

“To many people it’s a no-brainer, the information should be shared as it would help people who have a responsible attitude to their student debt and prevent those who are already in difficulty being granted further credit.”

The Student Loans Company called last year for loan data to be made public, but no change has been made by the government to the existing procedure.

ClearDebt chief executive, David Mond, believes the motivation behind the call for transparency on student loans may be slightly cynical: “Lenders’ motivation is probably at least as much to reduce their bad debt risk as it is to protect former students against over-extending themselves.

“People should take responsibility for themselves when it comes to working out how much they can afford and graduates should be more capable of doing this than most. What many otherwise responsible borrowers forget is to make a substantial provision for the often high cost of unforeseen life changes.”

Up to March 2005, the total value of student loans had reached £16.45 billion.

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