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The Great Student Start-up Loan Kerfuffle

Debt amount: 
Date debt issued: 
Monday, 12 August 2019
Period debt occurred: 
March 2018 to June 2019
Has your case been referred to a collection agency?: 
Payment Type: 
Youth Allowance
Appealing Debt?: 
Yes in process
Tell us about your debt and how has this affected you? e.g. anxiety levels, financial and accommodation stress: 

For three periods (beginning 2018 to mid 2019), I was receiving YA benefits and applied for a Student Start-up Loan at the start of each semester since I didn't have a job at the time.

Come mid-June 2019 and I have just one semester of Uni to go. I was fortunate enough to land myself some work that paid a decent amount. Reported this to Centrelink and they stated I would now be cut off from YA as a result. I figured that's perfectly fine since I clearly don't need it any more. All was supposed to be well...

...until mid-August. On the 12th, I suddenly got smacked with THREE overpayment letters claiming I was "ineligible" for my previous SSLs and had to repay them immediately. I wondered if I had done something wrong when I applied for the SSLs in those periods, so I looked over Centrelink's own rules regarding eligibility again:
- Need to be studying full-time at an approved tertiary course? (Yes)
- Need to apply during a loan period AND be more than 35 days before the course ends (Yes)
- Need to receiving YA for the period (Yes)

As for the last two conditions, I'm neither a veteran or getting a Commonwealth Education Costs Scholarship so they didn't apply to me either.

I logged onto Online Services and looked over my payment history. To no surprise, Centrelink's records show that I received fortnightly payments throughout all three periods. I have records from my university which prove I was studying full-time in an approved course. Ergo, the debt letter's claim that it used "data-matching" is completely bogus as the justification contradicts Centrelink's own records.

How do you feel about the way the Government has handled this process?: 

Try to fact check your "debts" before sending them out. They literally have all of my records on file confirming that I was still receiving YA for all three periods...

What's even sillier about this is that the SSLs are something that I have to pay back eventually once I get a real full-time job and my income goes above the threshold. In other words, there was virtually zero reason for Centrelink to claim that I was "overpaid" in the first place, and they are just trying to force me to pay extra interest - which nothing short of extortion.