Last week the government approved controversial plans to replace maintenance grants for students from low-income backgrounds with loans. This means students from England that start university this year will leave with debts of up to £12,500 more than those in previous years.
Roar spoke to three King’s students about how not having a maintenance grant would have impacted their studies.
Sara – Second year French and German student
I wasn’t sure it would be worth coming to university when tuition fees rose to £9000. Without the maintenance grant I would find it extremely difficult to study in London, or anywhere else. Just the thought that I don’t have to pay it back lifts some of my anxieties and makes my university experience more enjoyable. The maintenance grant should be increased to encourage young people from low-income backgrounds to study. Now there are talks about raising tuition fees, and the money just keeps adding up – it’s affecting people who can’t lean on their families financially. A loan is a joke of a replacement for the grant. I would be starting my professional life at an unjust disadvantage.
Lauren – Second year French and Philosophy student
Honestly, I probably would still have come to uni even without a grant, but it would have been more difficult. It means thousands less to pay back when I finish my degree so it is a weight off my shoulders when I get into the real world. But the problem is bigger than this. I already rely on other bursaries and funding just to pay my rent. With fees of £9000 a year, university is expensive for everyone but now poorer students are at more of a disadvantage. They really need all the money they are given and now they’re facing an even bigger debt in the future.
Asad – Third year Mathematics student
The word impossible is unfair, I could still have come to King’s without the grant. I could have started working and saving money at 16, worked a job throughout my time here, and budgeted more frugally than I have done. If I’d tried hard enough and had that level of foresight, I could have done it. What I couldn’t have done, however, is become treasurer of a society, taken up student journalism and mentored 6 school boys. The reality is very different to this, and I’m not merely grateful for that, I am who I am because of it. Maths fascinates me, but it’s only during my time at uni that I’ve discovered a passion for literature, journalism and social justice. The maintenance grant has given me the freedom to be independent, live in relative comfort, and beyond that, the opportunity to find myself.