Student debt. It’s something we hear about all the time but no one is really talking about it. At school we are told the financial burden of what going to university/college actually means, however, as teenagers we ignore the warning calls as that is a problem for the future to bear. That was me three years ago. Now I am in my third year of university almost working full-time hours alongside a full time degree. I am wondering is all this debt worth it? I am going to discuss what being in debt is actually like and how it can affect your experience as a student.
Different loans for different students
In the U.K. the government will pay for everyones tuition fees and then the student will pay it all back out of his/her wage once they are earning over (i think) £21,000 a year. This figure tends to bounce about – but the idea is that you start paying it back when you are in a position to be able to. To be able to afford general living cost: rent, utilities, food; the government also provides a maintenance loan. The thing with the maintenance loan is that depending on how much your parents earn is how much loan you would be entitled to. The minimum amount I believe is just over £3000 a year and the maximum amount is over £8000.
Fortunately for me, I receive the highest maintenance loan possible and so I haven’t been at a disadvantage during my studies. However, some of my friends who barely get any loan, and their parents can’t afford to pay their rent, really struggle to make ends meet. They end up having to balance an almost full time job with their degree. From the governments point of you, you can understand their logic behind giving more money to those from a disadvantaged background. However, as a result their are a lot of struggling students just because their parents just met the threshold.
There is a huge relationship between the amount of money you earn and the more you suffer with mental health issues. Last year I really struggled with how stressful it was to be in debt. No matter how hard I worked, it felt like I was never allowed to treat myself – because I had no money. Most students will experience this – especially because you don’t usually get paid to study. You work extremely hard – day and night- and you don’t get anything out of it for three years, at least.
That being said, this means it is increasingly more difficult for students whose loan doesn’t even cover their rent. All the money they earn through part time work goes on expenses and they really don’t have the same university experience as others. There are some students who will be able to go clubbing every night and have fun with friends and still have enough money to live comfortably. The amount of money you get can really change your university experience. It isn’t fair – but is there a solution?
Does finance scare people away?
Does the idea of having no money at university scare people from attending? Absolutely. It’s the heartbreaking truth that it’s now harder being from an average family income to attend university than it is for people from a disadvantaged background. I could image a lot of parents tell their children they wouldn’t be able to give their kids any money at university and that would be enough to scare anybody away. Now I’m not saying that any body should get less student loan. I believe that the threshold before you receive less student loan should be a lot higher. This would make attending university more accessible.
Anyway, I just felt I needed to write something on this matter because I don’t think anyone realises how hard having no money is until you’re suddenly in that situation. It is increasingly difficult when you’re a student and don’t have the time to earn money whilst focusing on studying. I don’t want to put anyone off but university is not for everyone and you should really consider whether all this stress is for you before committing three years of your life away.
Comment below your opinions on the student loan system. Is your country’s different to the U.K.? Or to read more on how to survive university you can read all about my tips here.