Student Loan day comes, it gets paid into my account, and then BAM – before I can even sigh longingly at the thought of Topshop’s newest collections, even a new
book, for the love of God – it all gets taken straight back out to pay for my accommodation costs. Now tell me, good students of the world, how am I supposed to cope with this injustice? All girls around me are on a mega shopping spree, all boys decide that they want to buy season tickets or a new laptop with their loan, and just to rub salt in the wound – the loan taken out of my account isn’t even enough to pay my accommodation costs. So the rent-takers plunge enthusiastically into my overdraft, leaving me to sit and sob that life isn’t fair whilst eating my way through five tubs of Ben & Jerry’s. Except, oh yeah – I can’t even afford ice-cream.
Because my parents earn just over the salary cut-off point, meaning I’m not entitled to any financial help, the minimum loan was thrust upon me. I say thrust, because I imagine the SLC smiling in a rather dazed and bemused manner, thinking ‘A student can definitely live without any money’ before hurling a pitiful amount my way. My parents cannot afford to put me through university – I was reliant on my loan helping me pay for rent, food and course equipment, the way Lindsay Lohan relies on cue cards to get her through presenting an episode of SNL. In my experience, there’s not really a lot of people in the same boat as me; parents often pay rent for their kids, or huge grants and bursaries more than help out students as well as their loan.
Most people by now would be thinking, ‘Why don’t you just get a job?’- It was my first intention from the moment I started uni. At home, I had two years working in Topshop of all places (walking past and seeing the clothes I can’t afford now only serves to pain me more); but as soon as I began job-hunting again, the stream of part-time vacancies just seemed to dry up. I managed to get bar work for a while, but come summer and a new term, I was looking yet again. Right now, I am in the most ridiculous position – I have been employed by a very reputable brand (which I won’t name and shame – well, maybe I will later if they don’t get their act together) for the last four months, and they still haven’t started me.
Back when I was working in a bar, sometimes until 6am for three days a week, I couldn’t help but think I’d gotten the short straw. Is it really fair that I’m destroying my sleeping and studying habits, just so I can afford to eat, whilst my flatmates are enjoying a social life and spending their loans on ridiculous things? (My neighbour bought a push-scooter. Yes, you read that correctly. The label said 7+, and that’s all I have to say on the matter).
The SLC needs to wake up and realise that there are students whose loans are simply not enough to cover the costs of living, if they can’t rely on their parents to fund all the extra expense. Last week, they sent me a letter cheekier than those obnoxious people who try and get on the bus without letting you off first, announcing they were going to give me even less of a loan for third year. I’m just checking the world hasn’t gone nuts yet, but why, why would they do that? Why would your third year be any less expensive than your previous years? The government are supposed to help out students in need of funding. So why is no-one helping me?