Redmond’s building credit: Merseynewslive

Merseyside students are in the firing line when it comes to the continuing struggle with the cost of living crisis.

The vision of student life is often one of finally moving out and being excited to begin an independent life and meet a whole new group of people in a whole new place.

Students come into this life expecting it to be the best years of their lives, as it’s commonly referred to as. It should be an experience where you can make the most of every opportunity thrown at you and discover what you really enjoy in life.

But the harsh reality is that you don’t get to take those opportunities and you hold yourself back because of the anxiety of how much it’s going to cost and is it worth paying for if it means you don’t know where your next meal will come from.

When you’re trying to get involved with the people you’re now living with, it’s hard to do so when your weekly budget doesn’t cover going for a nice meal or a day trip to the beach.

The average maintenance loan is £582 a month – with the average student accommodation price being  up to £500 a month

This leaves around £100 a month for most students to buy food and all their university essentials, which can sometimes come a little short.

It becomes more difficult when accommodation in the city centre is too expensive, so students look further afield for cheaper houses to make life easier. What ruins this plan is the expense of buses and taxis into the city every day with even a bus pass for the year being outside of most people’s budget.

The thinking behind student loans is that children from wealthier families receive a smaller student loan as they can seek financial help from their parents. Unfortunately, mom and dad aren’t always there to help and for some.

If a parent earns more, it may mean they have higher bills to pay that fit within their own budget meaning they can’t spare money for their children. There’s also a level of guilt that comes with begging your parents for money when this was meant to be the start of living independently. Nobody wants to ask their parents for help when they know they won’t be able to pay it back.

Foodbanks and prices rise
Liverpool city centre posters credit: Merseynewslive

There is a misunderstanding when it comes to economic problems for students. We are told our university schedule leaves room to get a job, but these are most likely minimum wage jobs that do nothing but add stress and take away time that could be used on our studies. There is no certainty that we will be getting these wages as most jobs operate on zero hour contracts and no guaranteed financial stability.

We are not allowed to enjoy ourselves and make new friends because there’s not enough money for it or we’re too busy working to cover the bills and juggling course work on top. You become isolated and your mental health deteriorates.

Research from ONS shows that over 2/3 of students reported a significant decline in their wellbeing and mental health.

Instead of looking at the situation that students are in and attempting to help, there are talks of tuition fees being raised even higher in the near future whilst the wage at which you must start paying back your loan is being lowered.

This adds more stress to a student’s life about what will happen to their finances when leaving university.

Coming into my third year of studies, I began to panic about prices rising and how I was going to be able to live. I have travel, food, bills and of course the extras that come with socialising to pay for.

As many other people across the UK, I panic about my electric and heating bills so have resulted to wrapping myself in several blankets and keeping the oven open when I’m finished cooking to heat the house.

I also found myself comparing supermarket prices and ending up with one monthly shop of Asda’s essential range that I will ration for four weeks.

There are several products that work out cheaper than other stores with a simple beef steak being priced at £2.25 compared to Tesco’s £3.15. Although only a 90p difference, it adds up until you reach an unpayable amount.

Low student income has led to three years of choosing what is more of a priority to pay for and nothing but fear for the future as we will spend the rest of our lives paying off our loans.

Student finance is not doing enough to ensure that students can afford to live without financial stress. This is not called living this is simply existing.

Featured image: Redmonds Building by Andrew Farquhar


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