Skip to main content

23rd September 2016

Survey shows student loan £250 too little to cover living costs

The Student Money Survey 2016 showed that most students feel university is not worth it, and revealed some extraordinary ways that students are earning money when times get tough

Soaring living costs are beginning to have a serious impact on students, the majority of which now say that their student loan isn’t enough to live off.

Research by financial advisory website Save The Student (STS) has shown that while the average maintenance loan sits at just £540 a month, students’ average monthly spend has reached £790.

Nearly half of this goes on rent, with the other amount spent on utilities, phone bills, socialising, and food, among others. This shortfall in funding means that while nearly 80 per cent turn to their parents to support them financially, a significant number have resorted to credit cards, gambling, or even selling their body.

STS’s survey of 2,217 students in May and June of this year found 70 per cent of them don’t think the maintenance loan is enough to live off. Furthermore most students (55 per cent) don’t believe that going to university has been worth the money.

In times of crisis students have reported resorting to desperate measures. One told the survey she takes payment to write others’ essays for them, running the risk of expulsion from university. Marie says “I have no other choice to pay for my own education,” and expects to make around £15,000 this year from this.

Others have said they did erotic webcam shows, sold used underwear, or even sold sex. In fact, one in ten students say they use gambling or sex work to make ends meet.


This raises questions about why they have nowhere else to go when times get tough. Only 20 per cent say they find it simple to seek advice from their university, while 80 per cent wish their financial education had been better.

More than two in every three students don’t even understand their loan agreements, with the extensive small print and contractual obligations imposed by Student Finance, passing many by.

Owen Burek, Editor-in-chief of STS and former University of Manchester student, said: “We get contacted by far too many desperate students struggling to live off their maintenance loan, some on the verge of being forced to quit their studies altogether.

“Unfortunately it’s not always simply a case of landing a part-time job and many parents aren’t in a position to make up the ongoing shortfall.

“While maintenance loans have increased, they continue to fall far short of rising living costs: 2016’s new starters are likely to find it even harder to get by.

“If you’re finding it hard to make ends meet, speak to your university welfare office: most will have Hardship funds you may be eligible for.”

If you are struggling, the University of Manchester offer a Hardship Fund which can be applied for by students who need financial support. The Students’ Union’s Advice Service can also help you with further assistance on where to turn in a difficult situation and can offer Emergency Loans of up to £100.

More Coverage

Students’ Union release statement in response to “Pro-Life Society” petition

The Students’ Union Exec team has released a statement outlining their legal position in regards to the creation of and affiliation with new societies

Students’ Union addresses new Freedom of Speech Act

The government’s new Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Act will come into force from 1 August 2024 and aims to be a provision for freedom of speech and academic freedom across universities and Students’ Unions

Protestors converge on University Green

Protests converge at the University Green, where Students Against Tyranny met with counter-protests from groups including Manchester Leftist Action and the Socialist Worker Student Society

University receives accreditation from United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

The University receives accreditation from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), joining the ranks of just five universities in the UK to achieve such recognition