Nearly a third of young people are too scared to check their bank balances, according to a survey conducted by Intelligent Environments, a developer of online banking software.
The findings have been revealed that money problems are having a serious psychological effect on students, 46% of 18-to-24-year-olds reported a loss of sleep as a result of their financial situation, with more than a third anticipating going into debt at some point during the academic year.
Shelly Asquith, vice president for welfare at the National Union of Students (NUS), said the findings reflected similar research conducted by the NUS, which revealed that half of students struggle to cover basic living costs.
Asquith said: “with rents on the rise and grants being cut back, we are facing a national crisis of student poverty. This is not just having an impact on students’ wellbeing, but on who can and cannot access education. At the NUS, we are making the case for more generous financial support and calling for action on the living costs students face every day”.
[su_spoiler title=”Is the onus on students to be financially responsible?” style=”simple” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”Comment”]In my experience, the amount of financial support -either in the form of a maintenance grant or a maintenance loan- provided for students is more often than not, sufficient. Those I know struggle with money generally face problems because they under-budget for necessities such as food, rent or unforeseen course costs and waste money on necessary spending or on going out and leisure expenses.
These are, simply, expenditures that the tax payer should have no responsibility to subsidise or contribute to, as it will have no direct benefit to society. Tuition fee loans are intended to allow young people to study towards careers in areas such as medicine, law and education: jobs that truly provide far more benefit to the UK than the £9,000 a year price-tag.
To suggest that students need more support suggests that they are not adult enough to deal with money; a lesson we all need to learn before we start dealing with mortgages and far higher levels of both incoming, and outgoing, finances. While I can’t claim to have experienced the true realities of adulthood, I can only imagine stress with money for the majority of adults exceeds that of students. To shield us now would make that step up even harder.
Admittedly the costs of living are rising but there are ways to cope with this. Many students work alongside their degrees, either during term time or in the summer and other holidays. Budgeting, while frustrating, is also certainly an essential skill to learn. University is not merely about an academic education: it provides a chance for young people to take steps out into independent living, while still being in the relatively supportive environment of a university. We at UEA are lucky enough to have a university and union that provide students with support, both via the Dean of Students Office, the union’s advice service and for those in real need, bursaries and hardship funds.
The grant and tuition system is, in my opinion, an ideal system. I don’t believe for a second that tax-payers money should be going towards other people’s education, an education that is statistically proven to improve income over a person’s life-span. Those that come from poorer backgrounds are, quite rightly, given considerably more than wealthier peers. If someone is that concerned about their balance, they probably just need to check it more.
These findings come in the wake of financial support for students being cut back by the government, including the scrapping of maintenance grants and the Education Maintainance Allowance.
Lloyd Peet, a second year politics student, related strongly to the findings. He said “I am genuinely quite scared to check my account balance more often than not. The combination of paying rent and the high cost of living that we’re currently experiencing makes living frugally quite difficult. You end up spending much more than you budget for, particularly when on campus because it’s so expensive to buy anything. I think more needs to be done to make things cheaper on campus, it should be place where students don’t have to spend most of their loan to get a sandwich”.
The researchers who conducted the survey spoke to 2000 people on the phone, finding that 31% of young people admitted struggling to budget properly and often lose track of their spending. The research also found that new payments technologies, such as contactless debit cards and apps such as ApplePay also facilitate more and easier spending because of the speed with which cashless payments can be made.