Recently My Voucher Codes spoke to over 600 students, asking them about their plans for University – if they planned to attend, if they were already there, if they had graduated etc. As part of the survey they were asked about Student Loans and they were surprised by how many people had concerns regarding them. The full article is here but it got me to thinking about my own student woes!
I attended University, after 6th form, for 2 years and achieved an HND in Travel and Tourism Management. I was lucky back then to be honest, as there was no such thing as University fees and students could get grants to help them buy books and supplies. My parents weren’t well off and to be honest if there had been university fees, I probably wouldn’t have gone. Instead I got my student loan in order to pay for my housing during the first year. As with the article above, my student loan was late one time and this caused no end of hassle with my accommodation. Mum and Dad had to lend me the money which was an inconvenience to them and student accommodation were breathing down my neck. The hassle it caused was actually one of the main reasons I traveled daily from home the following year (that and I had a boyfriend at home!).
However my Student Loan woes didn’t end there. I have, on occasion, has several other issues. One of the biggest that I can remember, is when I moved house. This isn’t really a new thing for me as I seem to move house every 1-2 years. I had informed student loans of my change of address each time and there had never been a problem – until then. I sent out a letter to Thesis, telling them of my new address. I didn’t hear anything but I also didn’t think anything of it.
A year or so must have passed and it didn’t even occur to me that I hadn’t had my annual statement or deferment. Let’s face it, we don’t think about those things until they arrive through the door, despite the fact I had been deferring my loan every single year from when I got it. However one day, out of nowhere, I got a phone call telling me I was in arrears with my student loan and that it needed paying immediately! I was devastated. I was now a single mum, struggling to bring up kids and I’m sure I just burst into tears. As it happens, the lady I spoke to was lovely but it didn’t change the fact they had no note of me having changed my address and therefore the issue fell on me. I had missed a deferment, I was in arrears, I had £600 or so to pay and I really wasn’t sure what to do about it. Not only that, but at the time I can write off my debt (which is still many years away), I can’t do that if my account is behind. In the end I set up a £5 payment per month, as honestly that’s really all I can afford, and I pay it off bit by bit. It completely sucks that despite the fact I’ve never earned enough to have to pay back my loan and have always qualified for deferment, I have this bulk amount that I’m having to pay – all because of an issue either with Royal Mail losing my letter or Student Loans not making a record of it.
I genuinely have no idea how people cope and manage with student loans these days. Mine was for less than £2000 (I think £1800) and I only got it for one year. People now are looking at £6000-8000 and for 2-4 years. University is such a great thing but sadly its going to become something that only the elite can afford. Not only that but degrees don’t seem to count for a lot over experience these days, so perhaps people will stop bothering even wanting to go!