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Student loans fail to cover rising cost of living

Students are struggling to cope with the increase in their cost of living with some taking on extra debt to cover expenses.

More than nine in 10 higher education students said their cost of living has increased in the last 12 months, according to the Office for National Statistics. Meanwhile, around half said that they had financial difficulties.

Student loans, relied on by 68% of those surveyed, were failing to cover all living expenses according to six in 10 students. In order just to get by, almost a third (30%) of students said they were taking on new debt which is a significant rise from November 2022 when 25% said they had increased their level of debt.

The financial pressure faced by those in higher education is taking its toll on mental health and causing some to cut short their plans for further study.

More than three quarters of students were concerned that the rising cost of living would affect their performance at college and just over a third said there were now less likely to go on to further studies after completing their course.

Almost half of those surveyed reported that their mental health had worsened since the start of the autumn term last year.

Deeply troubling findings

Tom Allingham, head of communications at Save The Student, said: “These findings are deeply troubling. That three in 10 students have taken on new debt to combat the cost-of-living crisis is particularly alarming, and highlights the extent to which inflation is diminishing the value of the Maintenance Loan.

“The government’s planned 2.8% increase to the loan next year simply isn’t enough, and will leave students up to £1,500 worse off every year.”

Allingham added that Save The Student has launched a petition to force the Government to increase the loans, and prevent further financial turmoil for students.


Government must act

Nehaal Bajwa of the National Union of Students said the government had ‘no excuse but to act’.

“The latest ONS figures show the massive impact of the cost-of-living crisis on students. Almost 80%
of students are concerned about the effect of this crisis on their studies and, with many unsure how to afford to eat, their education is bound to be suffering.

“This should worry us due to the impact on those students, but also due to the impact on wider society: we need trained graduates to join the workforce. Students are the doctors, nurses, and public sector workers of tomorrow, and it is a scandal that 46% of them have reported their mental health has worsened since this crisis began.

“The government must act and implement a tailored cost of living support package for students and ensure that student support and maintenance loans rise with inflation.”

Related: Student loan interest rates to rise again from 1 March 2023
‘Inflation forecast mistakes’ mean student loan support worth 10% less this year.

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