UK student maintenance loans don’t keep up with inflation


With around £40 a month after rent and bills – enough to cover food purchases but not to meet unexpected expenses – Lucy says she is struggling to make ends meet.

“I’m always overdrawn, there are constant bills to pay… It all adds up,” she says. The minimum maintenance loan payment she receives leaves her with a shortfall of £1,000 each year.

“I have to be very careful with things because if I have to replace something – new shoes, or if I drop my phone and need the screen fixed – I can’t afford it. do within my budget.

“I think one of the hardest things is seeing other people not struggling. I’ve lived with quite a few people who don’t have jobs while they’re in college and they just don’t understand how stressful it is,” she says.

“There’s also the peer pressure side, because everybody wants to go clubbing, everybody wants to go out on the weekends, and I [couldn’t] afford this.

From September, the government will cap student loan interest rates at 6.3%, a lower figure than originally planned. But the IFS stressed that this does “nothing at all” to protect current students, or those starting college in September, because refunds don’t start until after graduation.

The lack of maintenance loans will put even more pressure on students from low-income backgrounds, who already have to juggle stressful work hours and their studies.

mounting pressure

For Marcus, 21, going to college marked the first time he felt truly depressed.

Now about to start his third year at the University of Birmingham, Marcus says he gets by on around £25 a week after paying rent, bills and essentials, despite receiving full maintenance loan and working part-time.

Marcus sends his parents a share of that £25 whenever he can. His mother was recently fired from her job as a waitress, and Marcus feels a duty to do what he can to help cover the costs.

“Because I come from a low-income background, my parents don’t have enough money to support themselves, let alone me. So I kind of feel like I have to support them too,” he says. “You’re only 19, 20 and you shouldn’t really be supporting your family financially, but you feel you have to.

“[It’s] really hard to balance college and finances at the same time,” he explains.


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