Student Debt: It Just Got Bigger

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The recent announcement that the maintenance grant will be changed into a loan has been a blow to many students hoping to enter higher education. Will this put them off applying?

Student Debt

As if tripling the price of university was not bad enough, following George Osborne’s budget announcement this month it seems that that the maintenance grant will be scrapped and converted into a loan. The grant supports university students from low income families in the UK and the change is due to come into place in September, 2016. This means that in the past you haven’t had to pay back the grant money – now, you will.

Coming from a working class background, I can’t help feeling like the Conservative government is constantly trying to make it harder for me to go to university. It’s almost as if they want class inequality to continue. By cutting the maintenance grant they are not only preventing young people from poorer backgrounds succeeding, they are also widening the gap between the working and upper class.

“Whilst this could save the UK around £2bn annually, for me it would mean graduating with a debt of £53,000.”

Needless to say, that ‘gap’  is already massive. Statistics prove that there is not much working in our favour. A recent report from The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, revealed that children from wealthier backgrounds but with less academic ability, are 35% more likely to become high earners than smarter, working- class children. My ambition and willingness to learn could potentially mean nothing over good contacts and the right networks. Whilst the Government believe their reforms will help disadvantaged people ‘catch up,’ I don’t see how converting the grant into a loan will help me. In fact, I feel that they are doing the complete opposite. Without the maintenance grant, a lot of young people may start to think that their chances of going to university are very small and that scares me. After all, we are the future generation of doctors, lawyers and politicians.

By stalling access to professional careers,  it feels like these roles may be limited to those of a higher class. Whilst this could save the UK around £2bn annually, for me it would mean graduating with a debt of £53,000. How will this help us ‘catch up’?

The majority of people in my year (going into final year of college) are now considering applying for apprenticeships. If we go to uni, will we be able to afford to eat? One of my friends, Sarah may have the answer to at least one of our worries. She said:”At this rate, I’ll have to turn to cannibalism and eat my roommates.” How delightful!

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