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Budget 2015: Student Cuts Explained

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Oh George Osbourne, it's almost as if you want to exaggerate and establish a divide between the rich going to university and the poor, well, not.

Today brought George Osbourne, First Secretary of State (somehow), announcing the following year's Budget. It takes only one look at twitter to see that students across the country are livid over the announcement, but what has actually happened?

Osbourne has declared that maintenance grants for students from a poorer background will be cut and replaced with maintenance loans, meaning such students will have to pay back every last penny of what got them through their higher education.

This is Osbourne's first all-Conservative Budget since 1996, and hopefully his last.

For those unaware, maintenance grants are "living" grants that help pay for student's accommodation, food and living essentials. You do not have to pay back a grant. You do, however, have to pay back a loan.

Under the system currently in place, students from families and backgrounds earning less than £25,000 a year are entitled to a grant of £3,397 a year. The grant then decreases following an increase in the family's income. Families that earn over £42,620 do not get a maitenance loans.

Osbourne's broadcast retains that students do not have to pay back any of their loan until the graduate earns over £21,000 a year.

The cuts will save the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) just short of £1.6bn a year.

Former universities minister, David Willets, endorsed the idea, advising how it would help cut public spending. Willets was responsible for the rise of tuition fees to £9,000 in 2012.

President of the National Union of Studens, Megan Dunn, said students from poorer backgrounds were more likely to be deterred by debt and that converting grants to loans could affect where students chose to live or which courses they took.

“It will mean staying at home instead of moving into halls or shared accommodation and applying for shorter courses to reduce costs,” she said. “If grants are cut, it could mean the cost of student loans will go up for everyone or repayment conditions will get tougher than they already are. This is yet another unreasonable barrier to accessing higher education.”

Such cuts are making it harder and harder from students from working class families go to university and by making students repay what was previously a grant, the poorest students will have the largest amount of debt.

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