A damning study has found that the average official maintenance loan falls short of living costs by £340 each month.
Personal finance website Save the Student also discovered that more than three quarters of students struggle to make ends meet and 41 percent have thought about dropping out due to money worries. Two in five earn money from their own businesses or take up jobs on top of their studies.
Liam, 22, told the Daily Express that not only did he take out additional loans using specialist lender Smart-Pig, he often considered sex work but backed out at the last minute as it made him “nervous”.
The Birmingham City University student said: “I looked into getting money for things such as sending photos and videos of myself. Even selling my underwear for money. I also looked into doing sexual activity for money and more than one conversation was had with potential sugar daddies.”
He described the damaging effect the troubles had on him.
Liam said: “I had an accident just before my third year of my degree in which I hurt my knee badly. My money worries exacerbated my injury, and I also got a lot of headaches and felt unwell.”
Lauren Rawdling hven from Fareham, Hants, had to take out highinterest loans because even with a part-time job, her maintenance loan failed to cover half her accommodation.
The 20-year-old is to study at London’s University of Law and has been granted £4,422 by Student Finance England for “living costs”. Her digs will be £14,229 a year for the cheapest room available.
The Daily Express has highlighted the plight of university students throughout the pandemic in our Fair Deal for Students crusade.
Sara Khan, a National Union of Students vice-president, said: “Students shouldn’t have to worry about working to cover basic necessities and should be able to focus on enjoying and thriving in their studies.
“The Government must abolish tuition fees, fund maintenance grants for students in place of the profit-driven student loan system.”
The average maintenance loan is approximately £6,859 a year but those who live away from home and outside of London will get £4,422 if their household income is above £62,286.
Those living away from home but in London will get £6,166 if parental earnings are above £70,004.
Many say it is presumptuous for the Government to assume that a student can rely on their family financially. Tom Allingham, at Save the Student, demanded higher maintenance loans.
He said: “This is surely the most effective way to reduce the frequency with which students resort to more extreme sources of cash, many of which can have lasting mental and physical impacts.”