Monday 13 July 2015

Scrapping maintenance grants?

First off let me say a) I don't want to offend anyone and b) I'm no expert. Okay? Okay.

I come from what the gov' class as a high income family. My parents earn over whatever it is that marks the cut off point, meaning I am given the lowest amount of maintenance loan - just over three thousand. I don't get any sort of grant, nor do I get the £1000 bursary that can be awarded for those who get ABB in their A-levels, because for some reason my parents' income means that I shouldn't have been rewarded for my hard work. Whatever. The low amount of loan that I am given means that I don't get enough money to cover my rent, let alone all the other stuff like books, food, and the non-necessities that make for a happy student lifestyle. For the record, I would also get the same amount of loan if I chose not to base it on my parents' income - for example, if I was estranged from them.

Personally, I would love to get a higher loan. I know that means I would accumulate more debt - but is it really a debt? You don't have to pay it back til you earn over 21K, and it doesn't stop you getting a mortgage or a credit card or any of that kinda stuff. It's not something that weighs you down; yeah it may be hanging over you, but it's so much of a background piece of your life that it honestly doesn't matter if you ask me, but nobody ever does.

Those people from low income families get a much higher loan than I do, AND a grant which isn't paid back, AND access to bursaries should they be eligible for them. Sure they'll have a bit more debt at the end of it (see above for my views etc) but at least they've been able to survive through uni. The government don't see each individual's circumstances, and seem to fail to realise that with a higher income comes higher outgoings: mortgages, holidays etc, and parents aren't there simply to fund their child's every wish.

So, with the new budget, grants are a thing of the past. Those from low income families will receive higher loans than ever before (£8,200) but lo and behold they'll actually have to pay it back. I fail to see why this is a negative thing in any way, personally. Correct me if I'm wrong but the premise behind going to university is to gain access to high income jobs in the future - paving the way to a life where you're earning well over 21K and are able to pay back that loan. Even if you can't pay back the loan, guess what? It doesn't matter. It doesn't affect anything! At all! Ever!

Allegedly, this new system will deter those from low income families from going to university at all - I just don't see why. They're still getting a hell of a lot more money than your average Joe like me (literally, an extra 5K in loans per year than what I get) but it just isn't free money any more. Well whoop de doo; the government, however shitty they are, don't owe you anything. Just because your parents earn less, that does not decrease your chance to take your degree and give yourself the brightest future ever.

Maybe this is a ramble and maybe it doesn't make that much sense, but having to go through uni with my 3K-per-year loan while some of my friends get around 7K each year that they spend on mkat and Nike trainers, it's kind of frustrating. Let me know your view (politely) because I'd love to know what other people think about this!


  1. I totally agree! I didn't have enough of a loan to pay my rent in my three years of university so my parents had to pay and even then I could barely cover the cost of my bills and I worked part time. In first year I lived in a flat and a girl who lived with me had exactly the same room and had at least £500 knocked off because of her parents' income. I find it so unfair. I'm lucky that my parents were willing to help me through my three years at uni as some aren't so lucky. I think people complaining about paying back a loan when they earn at least £21k is ridiculous. xxx

    Jessie | allthingsbeautiful-x

  2. 'The government don't owe you anything?' Wrong. The government owe anybody who has the desire and capabilities to do so the right to an education to whatever level said individual desires. Why? Because that's how a society works - you invest in the next generation.
    The problem with scrapping maintenance grants (in my opinion) is that we are loading yet more debt on to the heads of young people from the very poorest background, simply because they aspire to an education in a system whose logic and principal is governed by principals of economic elitism, rather than meritocracy which, surely, for the sake of future society, is what it should be based on. This means that getting a university education is becoming ever more unobtainable for the poorest kids. Your thinking about student debt as sort of irrelevant until your earning over 21K, apart for its ideological weight hanging over you, is one I happen to share - but that sort of misses the point, because for kids from low income backgrounds, where money is a real, palpable problem that defines their experience of everyday life (as it does for the poor, far more than the well-off) the very idea of being in that much debt is enough to be completely of putting. Those individuals deserve the opportunity to have an education. Our government does owe them that (and it owes the rest of society that, too, actually) despite what they'd rather we think. Otherwise we risk regressing to a situation where rich kids get the chance to go to university and it just isn't something that really happens for people from working class backgrounds. Ultimately, your income (or your family's) does not determine your academic potential, and therefore simply shouldn't be a factor in your access to a university education. Because university is now so astronomically expensive, it's more important than ever that we provide as much financial help as possible to kids from low income families, not taking it from them and heaping on the debt instead… it's a tax on poor kids for daring to aspire to a better education.
    I also think it's pretty important to bear in mind that while we're sitting here discussing the mechanics of 'how much' debt students are in, the current government are all - without exception - from a generation who didn't pay a penny in tuition fee loans, because when they were our age, university was completely funded by their government. Talk about climbing the ladder and then pulling it up behind you, right?

  3. Personally, in a more ideal world, all individual cases would be assessed on a personal basis and each person would receive an amount suitable for their needs, however the man hours required for that would be obscene and sadly we’re all packed into these little brackets, which governments love to do.

    In my own experience I received the highest loan and bursary available, why? Because I came from a single parent family who did not earn enough to help support me in any way shape or form. Actually, I’ve received help throughout my entire further education because of the lack of money in my household. It’s not that I’m ‘gaining’ more than others, realistically, I’ve lost out on a hell a lot because my family was literally so poor (queue the smallest violins ever) but thankfully, in some skewed way, the government has helped me and my family out and coughed up a few extra quid to actually get me into higher education. (I don’t know if they still do it, but I used to get £30 a week to go to college, which would barely covered my travel card each week where I’d have to travel for 2 and half hours to a decent college outside my area, however it was appreciated - again, where are those violins?!)

    Myself, like many others from low income families are sometimes put off the idea because we are needed to stay home and help with bills, mortgage payments and goodness knows what else. Spending 3 years on a ‘jolly’ (it’s not that but they all seem to think it is) when I could be helping the family with another pay check is a much easier pill to swallow.

    Don’t get me wrong, I can see how infuriating it would be for people not to receive ANY help from the government but the problem doesn’t lie with people who are literally so poor they are given free money to help them through the education system, it’s with the fact that individual circumstances aren’t assessed. For instance, if you live at home with your parents, who earns £200,000 a year, yet you all hate each other and they won’t help you…you'd basically be in the same position as me? But trust me, I had to jump through burning flames to get that money for free.

    Again, I can sympathize with you as you know people who are spending their bursary’s willy nilly on trainers and other expensive products, I’d be pissed too! I shopped in Primark for my entire University life! But trust me, having lived in a single parent family my entire life, I can tell you, this is one of the only ‘benefits’ I’ve received from that situation and I’m happy enough to take it.

    Now....I may just run for the hills after writing that haha.

  4. All I can say to this is YES. I'm starting uni this September and will be in a similar situation - my parents receive *just* over the threshold and as a result I'm not eligible for a few thousands' worth of loans.
    I feel for the people who have had their grant whipped away with basically no warning but, as you put it, regardless of current income we'll all come out of uni (hopefully) with equal ability to pay it back. If the goal is for everyone to be equal I'd at least like to be able to pay my rent!

    I've been a bit afraid to talk about this in fear of offending people but you've nailed it - such a great and well-worded post x

  5. I completely agree with you! I'm in the exact same boat and it really is infuriating seeing friends with a significantly higher income than me. I don't see the issue with it being an extra loan than a grant. It is paid back in such small amounts that it really should not cause that much of an issue for day to day life. I think that those who are on lower incomes should have extra funds available - they may not be able to give the extra money my parents can - but it should be repaid. Grants shouldn't be seen as free money but a way to allow a student to go to university without the worry of working a significant number of hours a week too.

    Rachael at

  6. Just a disclaimer - I do get a maintenance grant from the government - but I completely agree that something needs to change. So many of my friends don't get the grants and their parents can't afford to help them at all, the government assume that parents will help and that is definitely not always the case. I am so glad you made this post, even though I can't relate. I think the main problem for me, is that it is going to put people from lower income families off going to university because they are worried about the future, as they may not fully understand about what happens after university. I am unlikely to pay off my loan fully, but having the extra burden of more to pay back can be worrying for some. The extra money really does help me out, but now, I also know how frustrating it is for people who don't get it.
    Abbie xx

    1. I come from a low income family and my family as probably the thing that restricts me from going to university the most. I applied to Edinburgh, Heriot Watt, Strathclyde, Glasgow and St Andrews. Got unconditional offers for all but Strathclyde who gave me a conditional and my mum turned around and told me that she'd rather I was doing something useful like hairdressing or cooking or something at college. It was pretty hard to hear!
      Love Hayley,
      Water Painted Dreams

  7. My uni experience is a little bit different because being Scottish I don't actually have fees. I'm in the second lowest bracket for SAAS(our loans company or whatever you want to call it). So I can afford to pay all of my rent with loan which is nice. That being said my parents have never financially contributed to university and they wouldn't be able to if I needed them to. I don't think people whose parents earn more money should get such a little amount but also I know I would be completely fucked if I didn't get as much as I do. Even though I've had part time jobs since I was 15.

    Love Hayley,
    Water Painted Dreams

  8. The whole system is very frustrating, I agree, however if those that come from a poorer background didn't receive a higher loan/a (usually small) grant, a large majority would not be able to go to university. Higher education should never be an elite system, only for those that can afford it. I do think people who have the minimum loan should get more, however scrapping grants is a huge deterrent for those that qualify.

    I do think though, that more universities should give out grants/scholarships based on grades. I got a scholarship when I first went to university based on my A Level results, not on my household income - very fair and allows anyone to qualify.

    It's a very very very frustrating system but the government do owe people something. They owe people a fair chance at making a life for themselves, despite their background, which isn't happening under this govt.


  9. I don't think this is really fair at all. You have been able to survive through uni clearly, and those from poor income families should too! You spend your money on beauty products and you recently went on holiday with your girlfriend, so what if they buy a pair of shoes?! My best friend is from a low income family and he bought shoes (2nd hand) because he hadn't had new shoes in YEARS and all of his had so many holes in them. They have had to go their entire lives without. You don't know peoples stories so don't be so quick to judge!

    Higher incomings mean higher outgoings?! Well lucky them getting to go on all those holidays, my friends have to use their student loans and grants and overdrafts to help their single mothers pay the bills at home and help pay for food for the family.

    You're very optimistic if you think everyone coming out of uni is going to have a well paid job, currently the average time of unemployment after graduation is three years. You can't really say to us to be polite when you've put this rant on the internet and you can't really say no offence when it IS offensive and very judgemental. It also reeks of privilege.

    1. I'm sorry that you feel this way lovely; in regards to buying shoes it's just that as the system is so faulty, my friend's grandparent pays all her rent allowing her to use her MASSIVE loan, and grant, on whatever she pleases (inc drugs as mentioned), which I don't think is fair when my own loan literally doesn't cover my rent so my dad is forced to use his savings to pay it.

      A higher income suggests having worked hard, so they deserve those holidays and a nice house which means a higher mortgage. In no way am I suggesting that people from low income families don't work as hard, I would never say that, but I know my dad has worked SO HARD to get to where he is today - he shouldn't HAVE to pay my way just because of what he earns, when other's get so much more from the government.

      I know people aren't going to get well paid jobs because of uni - I said that is the PREMISE of university, which it is! I'm sorry if I've offended you and seemed to reek of privilege, but it was just my opinion and I completely respect yours! x

    2. Ah yes I guess it doesn't take grandparents into account, which isn't fair! But I don't think many people are in that situation. I know a lot more people who desperately need that money. Mine barely covers my rent, I'm forever in my overdraft.

      I understand that, I know that my dad and mam have also worked so hard to have the money they have, but I also know that there is an element of luck, and right place at the right time, who you know, and confidence. I think those from low income families deserve holidays too, but they don't get them. I wasn't judging you for spending money on beauty products and holidays, just suggesting you don't judge everyone else for what they buy (I've spent so much money on travel this summer oops).

      Yes that's true, it's supposed to, but the way the UK is going I don't see how young people are going to succeed without having a leg up from parents and people they know. It's not just the money, my dad knows people so if I was in trouble he could probably find me a job.

      Thank you for replying, it's good to have discussions on these issues!

  10. I have mixed opinions on this. I'm not going to university now, but if I had gone, I would have received every grant and loan going as my mum is at the lowest end of the spectrum you could be. Obviously, this would have been the ONLY way that I could have got through Uni, so I do think that if you are less well off you should be offered more money, so you can have the same opportunities as those who are from more well off families than you! Without grants and loans, many "poor" people wouldn't get the same education opps as "rich" people. HOWEVER I don't think it should be free, I think you should have to pay it back as well as your other university fees, once you earn over 21k. Money shouldn't have to not be paid back, unless thats an option for everyone! xxx

  11. I completely agree with everything you have said. I was lucky enough to fall just under the margin of receiving the full amount of loans, and grants, but even if those grants weren't available to me, I still would have gone to university. The costs/'debts' that I have now occurred (higher than others, because I went to university in London) didn't phase me in the slightest, because at the end of the day I wanted a university education. I personally don't see why anyone is pissed off about it, it's not as if they're losing out - unless they are one of those people that simply go to uni for the 'free' money! Surely it's a good thing that all of the money now has to be paid back, because that means they'll be less people wasting the time of student finance, and universities. Students are still going to receive thousands of pounds in their bank accounts every year, and as you said, paying more of it back than before shouldn't be a problem, because universities are designed to put you in career where you're earning way over that amount anyway. It's something for future you to worry about!

    Even receiving the full amount, I found it incredibly hard to live out and pay for bills, transport, food, and all the books needed to actually study. So I can imagine what it was receiving not even a third of what I got. The government needs to seriously reconsider how they work out the amount each student gets.

  12. I totally agree. I got the minimum and couldn't afford much at uni. My parents aren't going to be paying back any of my Uni loan so I have no idea why their income should come into it. It also really pissed me off that people who went to uni with massive grants etc were always skipping lectures, going out, wasting all their money and then complaining they were poor. I don't understand why having a bigger loan is a massive issue. It's not like they are going to demand it all back when you finish uni. Personally I don't see the isssue. Also Im really sorry for this weird rambly post, my brain is not functioning today
    Beth x
    Mermaid in Disguise