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Maintenance loan "not enough to live on" for 74% of students

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Nearly three quarters of students don’t feel that their maintenance loan is enough to live on, according to a new survey.

In a study that will reignite concerns about student living expenses and real, often hidden, costs of a university education, Student Money Saver also found that 41% of students have gone without food because of worries about money.

The statistics on the cost of food on a student budget back up research carried out by The National Student late last year, which found that three in ten students have gone hungry in order to avoid spending money on food.

Student Money Saver also discovered that over one third (33.3%) of students have sold their possessions in order to be able to afford rent, food or bill payments, whilst 29% have considered dropping out of university because they can’t afford to be there and 29% also cannot afford to heat their homes when the temperature drops.

One female student, who wanted to remain anonymous, revealed that she had sold her chest of drawers, jewellery and exercise machine to pay the bills – and that this was only in the last month.

She said: "I needed the money to pay for petrol and gas and electric. I managed to raise around £200 and just about scraped through the month. It's more difficult for me this year as I am on placement and spend around £250 a month on petrol commuting to my placement.

“In the past I have sold an iPad to raise money to pay for bills etc. I live with my boyfriend who is an apprentice so we both have low wages and often paying big bills like water and council tax (we still have to pay it as he earns over the threshold) is difficult."

For 7%, financial worries have led them to take out a payday loan. 40% of those who resorted to payday loans went on to regret it.

This 7% is much higher than the 2% reported by the NUS last year.

A student who had previously taken out payday loans with two different companies described the situation asa vicious circle that I'll never be able to escape from.”

Worryingly, 3.6% admit that they have done something illegal for extra cash – whilst 21% admit that they have done something that, whilst not illegal, they would describe as “desperate.”

Avoiding selling their possessions or turning to crime, 50% of students are relying on their parents to see them through university.

3% of students work more than 35 hours per week on top of their studies - in other words, the hours required of a full time job - in order to support themselves.

Overall, 60% of students say that they do not feel “financially secure.”

Charlotte Burns, Editor of Student Money Saver, says: "Hearing that students are poor wouldn't surprise anyone. However, what this survey has shown us, is that the level of poverty is much worse than initially thought.

"Students are going without food and heating, as well as becoming desperate and selling possessions, taking out payday loans and seriously considering dropping out to get by.

"The fact that there are students living in serious poverty is completely unacceptable. Many parents have been completely left in the dark about this, and would be horrified to find how their children are living."

For advice on money saving and finances whilst at university visit our money advice pages here.

See the full Student Money Saver survey here

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