A survey of 2,316 students found that 50% have experienced mental health problems over cash flow issues, with the gap between living costs and maintenance loans leaving the average student £221 short each month.
Maintenance loans are based on parents’ earnings, regardless of whether they are willing to support their children, leaving many students unable to even afford rent.
This is having a severe impact on all aspects of students’ lives, the research from money site Save The Student claims.
“When things then got to my lowest and I lost all motivation to live I began spending excessively to try and make myself feel better,” Jenna, a second year Loughborough University student said.
“This didn’t work and I ended up having multiple suicide attempts and taking anti-depressants.
“When I finally started recovering I then had to work two jobs to try and make my way out of the debt I had created in that crisis period.”
Other students said that low funds had seriously affected their diet, either by skipping meals or living off cheap food, while a further 42% said it had had an impact on their relationships.
Sasha, a graduate from the University of Derby, said she had to ask to take home leftovers from the cafe where she was working while she was studying.
“I lost about three stone due to work and lack of food,” she said. “At one point I thought of going to a food bank but was too ashamed.”
Although most students said they turn to their parents when they’re struggling financially, of those who reach out to their university to help, just 37% said it was easy to find.
Jake Butler, a money expert from Save The Student, said “pitiful” maintenance loans and tuition fee hikes are putting students “under a huge amount of financial and mental stress”.
“There is still a severe lack of basic financial education at school, and universities must make advice and support more accessible for students who find themselves in a difficult situation.”
While 83% of students told researchers they stick to a budget, 75% told researchers they did not feel as if they had received enough education about money before starting university.
Useful websites and helplines:
Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Mon-Fri 10-5pm and 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41.
Maytree is a sanctuary for the suicidal in north London in a non-medical setting. For help or to enquire about a stay, call 020 7263 7070.