Two-thirds of university students think that the maintenance loan is not enough to cover their living expenses, new research has found.
The survey, carried out by student finance website Save the Student, surveyed 2,316 students about their financial situation and the effect that it had on their mental health. Some 66 per cent of the respondents felt that the maintenance loan left them struggling to get by and 50 per cent said that they had experienced mental health issues because of financial concerns.
Ruby gave up a part-time job in her second year at the University of Lincoln, just before her student finance was reduced. She said: “I went from receiving a decent amount of money from the government to the minimum, which didn’t even cover my rent, as my mother had received a promotion. I spent most of my time on my own in my room. I couldn’t sleep and whenever I did, it was only for a couple of hours at a time. I just felt tired all the time. I would be constantly panicking about money. I started missing a lot of lectures and seminars.”
Although 83 per cent of the students said that they tracked their spending, some still found that they had a financial shortfall when problems occurred.
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Sasha, who studied at the University of Derby, said that she ran short of money when Student Finance lost her paperwork and her loan was delayed: “When [my loan] came I hadn’t eaten in three weeks except for what I could take from the cafe I worked at (with permission). I lost about three stone due to worry and lack of food. At one point I thought of going to a food bank but was too ashamed.”
The survey also found that female students were more likely to worry about having enough to live on with 87 per cent of females feeling this way compared with 77 per cent of males. Women were also more dissatisfied with the financial education they had received before going to university and were less likely to consider their course good value for money.
Some 63 per cent of female students said that lack of money took a toll on their diet and that they were more likely to skip a meal, compared with 55 per cent of males.
Male students were also more optimistic about life after university, with 62 per cent stating that they were confident of finding a job after graduation, compared with 45 per cent of female students, while men expected £3,000 more from their starting salary.
However, only a third of students felt that it was easy for them to get help. Sasha added: “I didn't really have anyone I could ask for help as my mum is on a low wage and was struggling herself. I didn't want to ask the bank for a loan or overdraft as I didn't think that I would be accepted and didn’t want to get into more debt.”