The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of InQuire Media
Every student knows the same uplifting feeling after receiving the text from Student Finance confirming they will receive their maintenance loan in the next 2-3 days. But whilst for some students this means they will be covered for the next 3 months for all their financial needs, other students are facing a reality of just scraping by with the minimum loan. For these students that text can forebode the worry of next term as they have another twelve weeks of budgeting and financial strain placed on their shoulders.
The comical role of the poor student is funny until it’s you that has to play it. The student who wanders around the poorly heated house in 4 layers of clothing, eating the remainders of their budgeted monthly food shop, as they wait for their next maintenance loan to come in only to be swallowed up by rent payments.
Student loans are no longer fitting to an individual’s needs and the lengthy application process appears little worthwhile; especially when the letter from student finance arrives and it is confirmed that minimum maintenance loan has been allocated to you based on your parent’s annual income. Being measured on your parents’ income makes no sense when it comes to the practicality of most cases. With bigger wages comes bigger tax payments and, in most cases, larger bills to be paid. Parents end up paying taxes in order to watch other people’s children buy luxuries with the inability to fund their own children’s food payments. As young ‘adults’ we should be being assessed as individuals not as products of our parent’s income.
Whilst some are barely scraping rent on the minimum they receive, others are living the luxury of takeaways 2-3 times a week and ‘treating’ themselves to regular online shopping brawls. It creates tension between the student population as a class divide emerges between the wealthy and poor student. There is rising bitterness between the student population which could have been minimised had the excessive amounts some are given been reduced in the first place or, even better, every student is given the same amount.
Sure, “They’ll have to pay it all off in the long run,” but try telling that to the students who are currently working both during term time and holidays in order to pay off the overdraft they had to resort to using in order to get through the term. As they work all hours to dissolve their overdraft, others are off spending their remaining loan on exotic holidays and nights out.
It’s almost ironic, it is not your ability to live off the minimum loan and budget that is shown on your piece of paper at the end of your degree. The overall grade reflected on a degree is no longer just the effort and studies put into one’s work, but different people’s financial situations. First-Class degrees mean so much more to someone who worked their entire student life, juggling work schedules and studying with that constant financial stress on their shoulders.
Whilst student loans have a good thirty years to be paid off, overdrafts don’t. Students are turning to extreme methods to stay out of the red whilst students just next door are sat eating their 2nd or 3rd takeaway of the week and scrolling down ASOS for the next item of unnecessary clothing they can afford. Whilst some students lose precious study time through working others have all the time in the world to study and get the best grade possible. Fair? I think not.