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Cost of Living Crisis

Everyone is feeling the strain of the cost of living crisis; but how is this affecting students and what can we do to alleviate some of the stresses that come with it?

With the rise in energy bills and food costs, lots of us are feeling the pinch due to the cost of living crisis. According to a survey conducted by the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy), two thirds (66%) of therapists believe that cost of living issues are contributing to a decline in people's mental health. Six in ten (61%) therapists who responded to the members' surveys said their patients worry about their ability to pay bills at home.

With all of this going on, of course, this is going to affect students too. Maintenance loans do not stretch as far as they once did. Many students are finding it is not enough to cover the costs of housing, so many are having to find jobs to subsidise accommodation costs and put food on the table.

During an interview with the BBC, Nashwa Alsakka, president of the Students' Union at the University of Essex, said, "We know students that are currently holding two or three jobs where they simply cannot maintain living and surviving, let alone having an experience."

The president of the Students' Union at the University of Essex says they are seeing students who are "literally going into a shop and having £5 and hoping that they will be able to make do for two or three days' worth of meals."

"I have a specific student who was budgeting £20 a week for food, and in the situation that we're in where food is at 15% inflation, how can he survive on £20 for food for one week? "It's completely impossible," she says.

"It is not only about students having money to survive, but also how can a student who is having a sleepless night actually make money to survive and focus on their studies?"

So, what can we do to help ourselves through these hard times?

  • Consult Student Finance to check you have applied for everything you are entitled to. You can check below with the Student Finance body where you normally reside:
    • Student Finance England;
    • Student Finance Wales;
    • Student Awards Agency Scotland;
    • Student Finance NI.
  • Students can apply for a loan, grant, bursary, or a mix of these depending on their country of residence and level of education you are studying; to assist paying for day-to-day living expenses such as housing, food, and transportation.
  • Students will often get support in the form of three equal payments in the months of September, January, and April. Scotland pays support on a monthly basis.The quantity and kind of financial aid to which a student is entitled may depend, in part, on their family's financial situation.
  • This typically includes their parents' income. During the academic year, if a student's household income decreases due to a change in circumstances, they may be eligible for further financial aid and should get in touch with the appropriate student finance organisation.
  • Other funds that may help include:
    • Eligible students in the UK are able to apply for loans to pay for their master's degree tuition as well as any undergraduate tuition costs.
    • Disabled Students' Allowance assists in offsetting some of the additional expenses that a student may face as a result of a persistent medical condition, mental health issue, physical disability, or learning difficulty.
    • Eligible students from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland can apply to the relevant Student Finance body for a Childcare Grant. Students in Scotland should apply to their university for support from the University Childcare Funds, and lone parents may be eligible for the income-assessed Lone Parents’ Grant.
    • Students enrolled in specific programmes, such as those leading to degrees in medicine, dentistry, healthcare, social work, and teacher training, may be eligible for additional financial aid.
  • Most universities will have a student advice/welfare service that can advise on a range of issues including finances, housing, and benefits.
  • For more information on organisations to turn to or funds that can be applied for if you are struggling, click here.

By Laura Starkey-Ash, Social Media Mananger

4th November, 2022