Student loans are both the best and worst part of being a student. If you get the max then holla holla hella dollar because for the first time in your life you are ballin’. If you get the minimum amount, however, you are well and truly in the shit. I decided to see if you can actually live on the minimum amount or whether the gov are falling short on their policies for young people yet again.
After a quick calculation on the Student Finance website I discovered that the minimum amount for students studying from September 2017 onwards is £3,928 per year. I’ll be honest, it didn’t seem like a lot. Although, little did I realise that this wasn’t just a small amount, but an impossible amount to live on. I took a look at all your average student expenses and totted them up over the course of one year to see how much studying will realistically cost you and let me tell you, it ain’t pretty.
Firstly, I dug around for a student gaff. Nothing fancy, just your average five bed shit hole in the heart of Manchester’s student area, Fallowfield. On the Accommodation for Students website the average price was about £95 per week without bills. My contract would be for 52 weeks, but once I took into account half rent over summer the total year’s rent came to £4512.50. Oh good, I was already fucked.
Then I looked at bills. In a five bed house, after splitting the bills, I’d probably end up paying about £10 per week. Again, take out the summer months and Christmas/Easter hols and that comes to about £350 for the year. So far, it’s costing £4,862.50 before I’ve even begun living.
Then, I looked at food. Now, I’m talking living on the bare minimum- Oliver Twist work-house style. An Asda shop of milk, eggs, bread, cheese, crisps, chocolate, bananas, coffee, pasta, frozen vegetables, pasta sauce, mayo, cereal, apples came to £16.40. Let’s be realistic though, you’re gunna need some booze. Add on an extra tenner for a bottle of their cheapest Voddy and I was looking at an average spend of £26.40 per week. That’s £871.20 per year. Add that to my existing total and I’m looking at £5,733.70. Oh. Shit.
So these are the absolute must haves. Now let’s look at those extra details that technically speaking I could live without, but let’s face it, it would be a pretty miserable existence.
Somehow I’ve got to make my way to uni (I know, I know, effort. But still…). In Manchester, an annual bus pass is a whopping £235.00. On the lowest amount of loan that is going to be impossible. I looked on gumtree for the cheapest bikes available and they came to about £45. Not bad if I wasn’t already £1000+ over drawn. Let’s add that to the total anyway. Go wild. So now I’m on £5,778.70 and I’ve made it to lectures! Joy.
Unfortunately, as part of my course I probably have to do some studying. That means buying some textbooks that will serve the purpose of nothing more than gathering dust and convincing my mum that £9,000 per year is an ‘investment in my future’. Textbooks are pricey though, so that’ll probably add about £60. Updated total: £5,838.70.
Now for the fun stuff – getting on the sesh. Luckily, being in the North means that I can more or less pull of a night out on about £15 (entry, drink, bus home) if I pre-drink hard. Let’s say I’m going out twice a week (legend) that’ll cost £30. For the whole year that comes to about £990. £990!!!!. Still, best years of my life so worth it right….?? Let’s whack that on to our total- £6,828.70.
As a die-hard lover of food I would say that I order take away at least once a week. Usually, that costs around £10 if I keep creating new accounts to get the UniDays first delivery Deliveroo deal. That costs and extra £330 per year, taking us up to £7,158.70.
Lastly, I have to factor in actually getting home for the holidays. As I’m a born and bred Southerner, a return ticket using The TrainLine and my 16-24 railcard can cost £40 if I book waaaayyy in advance. So, as I usually go home for reading week, Christmas and Easter that adds another £120 to the equation. Thus, we arrive at a hefty £7,278.70. Holy shit.
If I were to survive solely on the minimum loan that would leave me at -£3,350.70. Not even my sweet, sweet overdraft can cover that. Yes, I can (and will have to) get a job. But even then it seems a bit ridic that I’ll be spending most of my days working to afford uni rather than working to do well at uni. Hmmmm.
The conclusion seems pretty clear- the minimum loan is just not enough. Not even nearly enough. If I actually had to live like this I legit think I’d be dead/losing teeth due to the lack of Vitamin C I’d eaten and stress of it all.
Am I alone in this? What are your experiences of living off student loans? Share your thoughts in the comments below!