Today I am annoyed. I am annoyed with Student Finance. I am annoyed that Student Finance has inhibited me. I have recently (as in this-Monday-recently) started my 2nd year studying Sociology at the University of Greenwich I applied as an Independent student this year in the hopes of receiving more loan money (as last year I only received£1,759 every 3 months. Barely enough to cover my rent, but as it happened I was living in a dingy flat in East Ham and only paying£500 (I say only- let me ellaborate. £500 is cheap for London. £500 was expensive for the pube-infested hell-hole I lived in (sorry to the lovely boys I lived with. It wasn’t you, it was your pubes)). So that amount of loan money was doable. Not comfortable, but doable. Now I’ve upgraded my living situation to a beeeeaaaaautiful (and I mean BEAUTIFUL), spacious, warm (in temperature and in feeling) family home south of the river where I pay£575 for the “small” room, not including bills. Over the summer I was paying£43 in council tax (I am in the process of figuring out if I am exempt this year- fingers crossed),£13.50 for water,£9.50 for Sky (yeee, we Sky bitchez now). This comes to a whopping total of£644 a month. And this isn’t including gas and elec.
SO- why do I live in such an expensive house? Well, at the ripe age of 24, I am no longer accustomed to the dank living situations I used to be accustomed to. These dank-living-situations are character buiding and necessary to a young-psyche, but you eventually grow out of this. I want a nice house with my friends of working age who can all afford (barely) to live in a nice establishment such as the Princess Palace. It’s worth the monthly rate. But it doesn’t solve my rent dilemma.
If I add together£644 x 3 , I am technically £173 pounds short of my rent every 3 months. Last year I worked between 16-20 hours a week in a bar (paying around£7.50 an hour). This meant I was making around£120 a week. 120 squids is not a lot. Especially someone who enjoys eatting well, shopping locally, and buy eco-friendly products whenever I can afford it. I suppose this is the only downside to studying a bit older is that you’ve acquired a taste for the finer things in life.
This list of criteria sounds spoilt. Let me just say that I am willing to give up some of these luxuries in order shelter myself (that is ones natural instinct of survival). However, wouldn’t it be nice to receive a little extra help from the Government in order to be able to live more comfortably (by comfortably I mean not scraping pennies every week / ripping my hair out for buying that ONE EXTRA PINT when I need to spend that£4 on a bottle of shampoo and some pasta to feed myself for the next 3 days). I think this is a fair enough point- I am doing my degree in order to better educate myself, and therefor get a good job/ acquire some direction of which career I would like to start. In whatever career I pursue the money I will be earning will go towards paying a percentage of my wages each month back to the Government that so lovingly lent me this money in the first place.
This is when I heard about the Independent student loan through Barca boy. He studied at my age and at the time had been living away from home since the age of 17. He told me all he had to do was get his parents to write a letter explaining he’d been living independently since the age of 17. It seemed too simple- I didn’t quite believe it. But I liked the letter idea. My mother was too busy to write the letter herself so I did it and attached a copy of her drivers licence and forged her signature (am I allowed to admit this on such a public platform?). Along with this letter, I sent my P60’s from the cocktail bar I worked at for many years.
The year I wasn’t at Uni between Brighton and traveling I worked there almost full time and nannied 3 days a week after school. This was off the books (which is the fault of my employer). Off the books = no P60’s. There was an online encounter with the mother of the nannying family adding me on Facebook recently, essentially blowing my cover as a responsible caregiver. She never responded to my numberous texts asking for a letter proving my employment with their family for 2014/15.
I sent off what little ‘evidence’ of my financial independence I had, and did all I could (Moral of the story, make sure your employment is on the books if you are ever trying to obtain an Indepedet student loan from the government).
Student Finance contact me 2 weeks prior to the start of my 2nd year saying they received my evidence and they’d be in touch. I patiently waited.
After my initial loan of£1759 was paid in to my account on the 19th I called to find out the progress of my application. The lady on the phone said something along the lines of”Bla bla bla, some bullshit that means you need more evidence to prove because from 2012/13 and 2014/15 there was not enough money for you to have sufficiently lived on without receiving aid from someone”. I sighed. God dammit. That basically means the years I was a) on my internship year in London, so of course I wasn’t making enough to live off. b) the years I was in America, which I wrote as my mother stating I was away traveling for the year. It’s just bloody hopeless. They’re trying to catch the weedy people out, who don’t actually need help. But for fuck sake, what about those whose parents ARE making a reasonable amount of money, but ALSO have 3 more children, who are ALL in school at the same time? And not just University, AMERICAN University. My sisters fees at the University of Arizona are at a whopping $43,000 a year. Even if my parents were making enough, I am 24 fucking years old. I don’t want to have to ask my parents for money. They already put me through 2 years of school in Brighton which I strategically dropped out of because I didn’t want to work in fashion and my degree would have been fucking useless and pointless to finish. I was also paying internaitonal fees at the time. I assured my parents when I made the decision to drop out that I would go back to Uni, after a few more years of living independently / traveling and I would be elligable for Student finance from the UK government as my birth right as a UK citizen.
Little did I know the amount I would be receiving wouldn’t even cover my rent.
So here we are. I am angry. I am angry because I will utilize that money to alleviate th epressure on myself. I will use that money to allow me to volunteer at a charity in my spare time (true say, not even bullshit). I will also pay that money BACK when I become a working, stand up member of the adult community.
However, I have not been granted this right.
I am more worried about next year, when I really want to smash the FUCK out of final year and get a 1st. I feel like this will be seriously hindered by having to work 20 hours a week (if not more) at minimum wage just in order to feed myself soup and noodles all week.
The other main problem is what I have included as the picture for the post. Let’s consider first the minimum amount of loan given to students in London. The amount I am receiving. 1771 every 3 months. I am paying 644 all in which my loan doens’t fully cover (as we’ve established). The average rent in London for zone 2 is around 600 (if not more, depending on where you are / how nice the yard is). The amount of loan I get doesn’t even cover that. If you are in Leeds, where you can pay 200 a month. THINK of how much more time the students have to dedicate to their studies. They don’t have to worry about money. They live like kings. Why didn’t I go to Leeds? Because my home is in London. My life is in London, my friends are in London, my connections are in London. Why should I have to move my whole life to study. I strongly believe that London students should get a minimum of 2000 every 3 months. And this should be the absolute minimum.
This is a LOAN. By definition, a loan is a “grant of the temporary use of something”. The TEMPORARY use of something- the implications of having to give it BACK. PLUS INTEREST.
I don’t get it. I really don’t. Why make it so much harder for those studying? The room for social mobility is appaling. I am lucky to have the resources to ask my parents for the extra money (even if I don’t want to). But what about those not so fortunate? I am aware they would be granted more money because of this but that doesn’t alleviate their stress of the gamble of studying at higher education. If they don’t succeed and don’t get a good enough paying job, how will they pay back that loan for the first year, 2nd year they attempted? Their is no room for error. What a scary fucking thought. And it’s not alright.