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.
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 savethestudent.org 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!