Student loans are primarily provided by the government through the Student Loans Company. However, the amount each student gets is based on eligibility. There are three main loans; tuition fee loan, maintenance loan and a maintenance grant.
All full-time students are entitled to a tuition fee loan; this covers the full cost of the tuition fee so that’s pretty straight forward. However, the maintenance loan isn’t that simple. The maintenance loan is designed to help pay for living costs whilst at university such as rent and food. Those students coming from a household with a lower-income are entitled to a larger loan than those that come from a household with a higher income – is this completely fair?
Think about it from a student’s point of view; it’s us at university not our parents. We are the individuals that need the money to pay our rent, eat Dominos and drink endless amounts of alcohol. Why should our parent’s income dictate how much money we are entitled to receive?
Having just received only £135 to cover £1350 rent, I thought I’d look into what other students and their families think about the current loans system.
Of course it could be argued that parents with a higher income could help more financially, but they also have a lot more outgoing. A family that have had to help their daughter through her time at University due to receiving the minimum loan said “It’s actually put us under a lot of financial stress. It’s almost like we’re being punished for working hard, we have a lot to pay for already and this doesn’t help. I suppose that’s life.”
Sarah, a student from Birmingham City University who receives the minimum loan, said “I feel student finance is unfair in regards to how they decide who gets what, especially considering the fact they don’t take into consideration our rent and other expenses, they only think about parents’ income not what we personally have to pay out. It should definitely be equal for everyone.”
In contrast, I spoke to a student who receives both an increased maintenance loan and a grant, they said “I love receiving student finance because once my rent is paid I have that money left over to do what I want with it. My mum gives me extra if I ask for it but most of the time I don’t need to because I get enough through student finance. I don’t think it’s fair that some of us get more than others though, I think everyone should get the same but I’m not complaining.”
Out of the 15 students I spoke to, some receiving the highest loan, others receiving the minimum, only 2 of them felt that the current system was fair. This suggests that the majority believe the system needs to be looked at.
But, for now we will have to put up with the current process and swap our Grey Goose for Glen’s, our Topshop for Primark and our Nandos for McDonalds. Every little helps.