Lending to live - and to really live

July 18, 1997

Sir Ron Dearing wants student loans extended and means-tested. Chris Condron found that for some students loans are a lifeline and for others a luxury.

Kathryn Pyke, 21, University of Greenwich, who does not receive a grant, has taken out the full student loan every year: "I've spent a fair bit on clothes, and a holiday in Majorca." She owes "about Pounds 4,000". "Most of it goes on living expenses." She is working over the summer.

Ben Rowswell, 20, who has just graduated from Bristol University received almost a full grant each year, and took out two full student loans: "Let's just say it went on recreational use. I wouldn't really like to say any more than that." He has worked through most vacations.

Tim Fenton, 20, Birmingham University, took out an Pounds 800 loan: "Pissed the lot up the wall in four weeks. Quite an achievement really."

Matthew Harwood, 20, Sheffield University: "Last year I took the loan out as a lump sum. Wasted the lot of it on beer, fags and clothes. As far as I can see it's the cheapest loan you'll ever get, so you might as well get it."

Katherine Wilson, 19, Edinburgh University: "I didn't get a grant last year, and I was lucky enough not to have to take out a student loan." Money earned over the summer and the student loan are already being earmarked for "living expenses".

Jennie Pfeffer, 20, Southampton University "I'm very careful with my money. I've had a full grant and full loan every year. Basically, the grant pays for my accommodation and the loan pays food and bills. I haven't blown any of it."

Tony Mawby, 21, Nottingham Trent University: "I reckon I must owe about Pounds 4,000 now, including the interest. I thought the loans were interest-free until graduation, so I got a bit of a shock when the first statement came in."

He supplements his full grant by working as a catering assistant in term time. He is spending the summer checking exam scripts. All his loan has gone on living expenses.

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