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.