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Articles > Money March, 31, 2022

How exactly are students supposed to survive?

Tamzin Kelsall
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9.04 / 10

Ever been in the supermarket looking at food prices and realising “I swear this didn’t cost as much last time I came here”?

As a 2nd year student, I know that budgeting has to be one of my top priorities to enable myself to survive. Food prices are increasing, fuel prices are increasing and maintenance loan is staying the same. Do you see the problem? Students have to live off barely anything, especially those who don’t have part time jobs or extra income from parents etc.

The statistics

For those who don’t know what maintenance loan is, it’s a loan that is given to university students to help pay for rent, food and other basics which simply isn’t enough. An interesting read by Jessica Murray on shows the huge array of rent prices which differs from city to city across England. The average rent per month is £641 meaning that’s £148 per week to live off! The average maintenance loan is £470 per month leaving most students out of pocket to even pay rent which is disgraceful.

My own experience

My own experience involves applying for endless part time jobs that would work around my university hours but with the amount of other student applicants, it’s simply not possible for every student to have a city centre job. I’ve also had to learn how to budget and know that sometimes I can’t have something because I can’t afford it.

Without no regular extra income either, it’s a real struggle to try and save money so if something was to go wrong on my car, a university trip or I had textbooks to purchase, I’d be screwed. You may also be thinking that having a car is not necessary but I bought my car before university and it helps massively getting to and from placements that I regularly attend! I know many students who have had to resort to asking parents for money just to help pay for basics (what the maintenance loan is supposed to cover) which can be embarrassing. Surviving should not mean having to decide whether you can afford a week’s basic food staples.

Is it enough?

I think that student finance is simply not enough help students live and be happy at the same time. The maintenance loan should increase with rising food and fuel costs so that students aren’t put under significant stress. University is supposed to be a time where children become adults and learn how to live by themselves and survive.

The UCAS website has a specific page with the title “What to do if your student finance isn’t enough”. The first suggestion is to look for scholarships and bursaries. I have applied myself to many however only got accepted on one. Yes, they’re good as you don’t need to pay them back but it isn’t instant money when you may most likely need it. A few other suggestions are to “take a year out” or “consider your university choices”. I can not believe that UCAS have suggested these when many people need to go to university to be able to get the career choice they want.

I believe that in a few years, that many students will be unable to go to university on the basis that they cannot afford rent or food basics. If you could have your say, what would you change to help university students survive? Share your ideas in the comment section below, and help someone else out!

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  1. Name

    I think University should be free like Scotland you said the problem perfectly!

  2. Rose

    I think you covered everything perfectly. Like honestly is is absolutely rubbish that you get a loan that doesn’t even cover the basics unless your going to be going to a university that isn’t in the same town / city you live in. In fact, it’s the main reason I decided to go to the uni in the town I live in just because I knew I wouldn’t be able to pay rent elsewhere. Ppl dealing with this have my support and I truly hope this changes for the better because it’s just not fair for ppl who have to leave home for uni.

  3. Angela

    I think…im in Scotland and I’m a mature student. Our loans up here are only 7100 per year + 1000 maintenance bursary. I live in the university halls because my home is too far and too rural to be able to commute daily, by the time my rent is paid im left with 110 to last me the month for food, materials & equipment, hygiene etc. Its long past time that both loans and bursary payments became a bit more realistic.

  4. Shaad Ali

    Hello I am an international student from India who would be coming this September for studying Biomedical Sciences. I also have the same concerns as my parents would be taking loan for my 2 years tuition fees and accomodation. So, I believe that I would also sooner or later find out a part time job for myself in order to survive as my financial condition would not be that great. I would like to know that when should I start to search for part time jobs in a way that it does not affect my studies like after 2 months of starting the course or more? Please help

  5. Tamzin kelsall

    Hi shard Ali! Thank you for commenting and apologies for the slow reply; I don’t get a notification when someone comments.
    Regarding your question about finding a part time job. I would certainly try and apply as soon as possible. Whenever applying try and incorporate your timetable somehow so they know what your availability is like.

    Hope this helps 🙂

  6. joseph

    its very hard as cost of living had increased exponentially whereas student funding and job salary’s have not increased that much or at all so it makes it very hard for the average student to be able to live without support from family best thing to do is budget extreme and save money while you can

  7. Lizzie

    I agree with this article. Student finance does not even cover most people’s rents as the amount we get is going down and our rent is getting higher . This makes students more depressed. Students also need money to have a social life so they can a good time while studying a stressful subject.

  8. ma

    I think…it is very expensive especially with todays cost of living crisis for students having to pay for university student fees and expenses as well as paying for accomodation

  9. Rain

    Wow when I clicked on this I did not expect to read something so realistic and honest. I have not started university yet, but I have the same massive concerns for when I do start.

    I personally took a year out to au-pair, but as many may know that does not exactly pay very much. I have no idea how I am supposed to survive uni as I don’t have my parents support, and have learning disabilities that already make going to uni to begin with very hard for me.

    Jobs as you said are incredibly hard to find, even with it being in a student area jobs are not out there. I have one friend who applied to over 60 jobs, and he only got called back for 1 interview which he didn’t even get the job for afterwards.

  10. Rose

    Good advice