As a student myself, I understand the ordeal new applicants to student finance go through every year. The application is one of constant phone calls, letters and emails to and from Student Finance. For myself it was a very stressful process.
As many of you may know, the basic student finance package includes a tuition fee loan, a maintenance loan and a maintenance grant. Some students may get extra help on top of this. A student whose household income is £30000 with no other special circumstances such as disability or parents requiring care, would expect to get £4,292 as a maintenance loan and 2,416 as a maintenance grant. The grant is a non repayable payment to the student. A student whose circumstances are the same, but with a household income of £50,000 would get £4,781 as a loan but with no grant.
This is all well and good and works for a large majority of families. However a question was raised to me the other day which interested me. In the application process there are never any questions on how many children are dependent upon the parent who also supports you.
This would mean a student whose household income is £30,000, but also has two younger siblings would most likely expect to receive little support from their parents in higher education. However the student with no siblings from the £50,000 household could potentially receive extra support.
In an area like London with a high cost of living, rents are almost always above £100 per week. Once the cost of food and other essentials are added in, it is clear to see that even the maintenance support for the student from the £30,000 is not enough. Even with the amount of loan given being an extra £2000.
One applicant who is in this situation stated that; "In a system that is supposedly helping finance the future of our country, families are unable to help support their children if they have more than one attending university."
Is this a fair system? Should the application include how many other people are financially dependent on the person you depend on?