Student finance is a highly controversial topic that can throw many of us into fits of anger and lengthy discussions. So, firstly, I apologise if this puts a bit of a downer on your day…
Following the urge to write on the matter, I did some research into different student’s financial situations, finding out how much student finance helped them or how much it hindered them. I think it would be fair to say that I was utterly gobsmacked with the feedback I received…
One student said that the money they received from student finance was simply too little to cover their accommodation – meaning that they had to rely on their parents to meet these fees AND to provide them with support for living costs. It is ironic how university is supposed to be about independence; moving away from home and beginning your journey to your dream career, yet texting your dad asking when he’s going to transfer you the money so you can hit an FND isn’t all that independent, right? The student claimed that they felt awful for using their parents’ money, particularly for things such as a drinking or meals out. Yet, it is essential to try and gain as much from the uni experience as possible, so sometimes going out is inevitable. With a loan that puts you into the minus figures, once your rent goes out, how would you down those jagerbombs without the support from your family?
Another student explained that her parents had to support her financially, providing her with about £200 a month despite choosing NOT to support her application. She figured that without their consent on her application for student finance she would receive enough to live off as an individual… but she was WRONG. After having a part-time job throughout most of her teenage years, she feels so guilty taking money off her family for the small things – a common emotion, as I found out through my research. Living in an isolated area where part-time jobs are difficult for students to get, she has to meticulously budget her finances in order to live.
However, the feedback I gathered from one particular student here at Loughborough was truly gobsmacking. Her minimum loan had left her in debt and had put her under so much stress that she has had to seek help from a welfare officer and ask for extensions on coursework deadlines. Despite sending student finance proof of her single parent’s financial situation, they still didn’t believe that the situation had changed since the last academic year. With the minimum loan not even covering her rent, she had to delve into the money she earned over summer just to eat, and receives help from those she lives with.
My personal experience with student finance isn’t great, as my loan barely covers my rent. I receive money from my parents and brother to cover living costs and get really frustrated when others boast about things they have bought with their student loan. I have always worked part-time, alongside my studies, and have use this money for going out or extra treats. The money from my family is only used for food or books. I find it ironic how those who work hard are effectively punished in this way.
Luckily for me, I have an amazing family support network who are more than willing to support me during this stage of my education. I am aware, however, that others aren’t as lucky so I really do question how they do it. It’s especially annoying when people claim that everyone can go to Uni if they try hard enough, because that simply isn’t true. If I didn’t receive help from my family I wouldn’t be able to afford being a student, it really is that simple.I suppose the only silver lining is we’ll have less to pay back when we’re older…although we may just owe our parents some kind of compensation!
If you’re reading this and are struggling financially then I urge you to contact your students’ union and seek extra help. Some Universities have great support systems and can forward you to the right people in order to seek extra funding. This may take a while to be approved, but it might be worth it in the long run.
-By Livv Ferris