‘Insultingly low’ maintenance loans cause money struggles for English students

We often make fun of students for the way they live. They wake up late, they stay in bed all day, they only spend money on alcoholic drinks and takeaways. In a lot of cases, this just isn’t true. The majority of students have to look to alternative methods just to pay the rent.

At the beginning of last year, I was told I owe Student Finance England £2,000 in repayments because they’d given me too much money in my first year of university. When it came to this year, I had no idea that I’d be dependent on my parents paying my rent. Unfortunately, this is the reality a lot of students face.

There are a number of organisations that work to help students. Save the Student is an organisation dedicated to giving advice to students from managing their finances to finding jobs. A spokesperson for Save the Student said the maintenance loan is the biggest problem for students because they are “insultingly low” and it’s often unclear how much parents need to contribute. They believe that the government “needs to be more explicit about parental contributions” or increase the maintenance loan so they actually help students afford to live.

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What alternative options students are turning to?

The National Union of Students (NUS) has reported that some students have been turning to gambling to make some extra cash. Three in five students have gambled in some way over the past 12 months, with one in eight betting more than they can afford to lose. Students Unions have support services that can help and the NUS recommends using software to block access to gambling sites. However, students who don’t want to gamble but still need money sometimes turn to other loans to supplement their income.

The ‘other’ student loans

If you’re a student even minimally active on Facebook, you’ve most likely seen this advert. For students far into their overdrafts and unable to pay their rent, this post may seem like a godsend. For others, it may echo the likes of Wonga and other payday loan services.

smart pig

Screenshot taken from Facebook

Smart Pig acts as a payday loan service just for students. When contacted for information on whether students were using their service to supplement their maintenance loan, no reply was received.

While Smart Pig could be a great service for those who need to make quick rent payments until payday comes, these services can easily lead to a slippery slope of snowballing debt.

These types of loan services often have huge high interest rates, they can affect your credit score, and you could end up paying more than you ever thought you would if payments are missed. If you do want to use a service like this, make sure to do the research. 

Student finance is a difficult topic to tackle. Without it, some students would never have the chance to attend university, but for others, it can create money problems that last a lifetime. Students in England are incredibly lucky to be able to go to university through student finance. In America, student debt can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars.

At the moment tuition fees are capped at £9250, and maintenance loans remain income dependent, but it’s unclear if this will change as the UK’s government make big changes for the future of the country.



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