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Maintenance Grants: What's All The Fuss About?

05/02/2016 10:16 GMT | Updated 04/02/2017 10:12 GMT

I think I can safely say that the axing of maintenance grants has caused a real stir among students and politicians alike, but personally I don't see what all the fuss is about. I'm a first year student in London and while I won't deny that student life is expensive; with my rent being more than what my parents pay on a three bedroom house, I am fully accepting of the idea that I should have to pay back the money I am given.

Many of the articles I have read on the cuts have made out that students will simply lose out on money, when in reality we will simply have it added to our loan. So, to clarify, you will still be receiving the same amount of money, but now you will be expected to pay it back once you begin earning over £21,000. So I am thoroughly confused by the idea that poorer students will no longer be able to afford university education, as this simply isn't true.

Means tested student finance is flawed in itself, acting on the assumption that parents with higher incomes will not only be able to subsidise their children but that they will also want to. University for me was about gaining independence, and if I had been left relying on my parents then I would have been left feeling like a burden. A further flaw of this system is this; three months after applying for my finance my dad, the breadwinner, lost his job. At the time of applying for my finance my parents were earning a combined income of around £35,000 meaning that I received very little grant on top of my loan. However now we had only my mums income, which fell below £10,000. I was lucky enough that my finance covers my rent, as with two other children my parents would not have been able to afford to further fund me in their current situation. Student finance makes no allowance for this. But as I said, I was lucky, other students I live with have had to rely on their parents to pay their rent and to provide a living allowance. This system is creating a generation of 20 year olds whom have never been financially independent.

In my opinion the student finance system is completely unfair already, and it frustrates me even further that my parents income dictates how much money I will have to pay back in comparison to other families. I state, my parents income has no impact on my ability to pay back my debt.

And I return to the matter at hand, the conversion of grants to bigger loans. Finally, everyone will have to pay back the amount of money the government has given them. Surely that's only fair? Around £800 of my finance is grant, so if at the end of my studies I am left with £45,000 worth of debt, then to me it's only fair that every other student pays back what they spent too. I see no reason why your family income would affect your ability to pay back your loan, or why it should reduce it. It feels almost like a punishment for having parents who both are able to work, in comparison to those are unfortunate enough to not.

Now don't get me wrong, I am no supporter of the Tories. But on this occasion I must ask students, is this really the most important thing to you? Is this really the worst thing this government has done to us? If you think so then I would like to send you back to 2010 when the Conservative majority government tripled our tuition fees. And then I will politely remind you that it is unlikely that you will ever pay back your entire loan anyway. Finally I ask that we at least be thankful that here we have a student finance service, in comparison to the students facing costs in other countries like America.

So really, is this change worth all the fuss we've assigned it, or do we Brits really just like to complain?