Nina, 21, a final year student at Cardiff University, says that she is worried that it won’t be enough no matter how hard she tries to make a better life for herself. Nina is a person from a lower socioeconomic background and knows how money can impact your life. Nina is “scared” by the rising cost of living.
After graduation, students in their final year will face the crisis head-on. Students will likely be battered by rising energy and food costs, increased student loan repayments, and soaring rents. This is likely to harm students’ mental well-being. Last year, a Student Beans survey revealed that 55% of students cited financial worries for their stress and poor mental state.
Nina tells Dazed that she went to university to create a better life for herself, to be able to make financial decisions and not worry as much about money as my parents. After graduating, she had always planned to pursue a law conversion. However, even though she saved for a year, Nina realized that she wouldn’t be able to afford to take the course without working at least 20 hours. This made her wonder what she should do next. She says that she may have to live with her parents and work for a few years to afford law school.
Nina is not the only student in her final year whose plans for post-graduation are thrown into chaos. Anna, 23, is a Leeds Trinity University student studying psychology. She had planned to move out after graduating and find a flat in Leeds. Due to the increasing cost of housing, Anna will be moving into her boyfriend’s Huddersfield home.
She explains that rent prices have forced her to move to Huddersfield. “I will also be moving into Huddersfield with my boyfriend’s parents to save money and travel more or move into our own home. “I can work in Leeds, which is more affordable, and I could receive a higher wage, but I pay less rent,” she says.
She says that if all else fails, she will have to return to her mum’s house, located in a small Merseyside town. Anna says that it reduces my career options as more opportunities exist in cities. However, the rent is too high, so it’s not feasible. “I want to save money to travel abroad, but all my money is going towards just being there, which is heart-wrenching, as this is what I have longed to do since I was a kid.”
Final year students may be looking forward to their post-uni life, but it is essential to remember that the cost of living crisis has already started, and students are already feeling the effects. The cost of living situation will be most severe for students, who are typically in their late teens or early 20s. The Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce (RSA) polled 1,000 young people between 16 and 24. It found that nearly half (47%) were unable to or barely managed to make ends meet each month. Or that their income varies each week greatly. In October, demos, a cross-party think tank, reported that young people spend twice as much on necessities like rent, mortgage, and bills as do older people. This equates to almost PS1,300 per month.
Rising energy costs are already squeezing students. Alex, 25, is currently studying digital design and advertising at the Northern School of Art. He rents privately with his student partner. Since it became clear that energy prices were going up, he has had to be more cautious with his money. He tells Dazed that the main effect it has already had is mainly just a little bit more stress about how I spend money.
Alex is not the only one. Anna, who lives alone and in a one-bedroom apartment, already has to reduce her spending. She says, “As I live alone, I pay all my bills myself.” This was much more affordable than living in a shared home with friends at a fixed price for all bills. Now, most of the money that I earn or receive through my loan goes towards rent and bills.
She said that budgeting has been “much more difficult” for grocery shopping and transportation costs. She also says that evenings out are becoming less common. She says, “My friends have had to find other ways to socialize like going on walks or having nights in.”
“When you are poorer than most people, you learn about money and the significance of every penny.” Nina also says that she must “literally count every dollar” she spends. She says, “Let’s just assume that you notice everything when those are your circumstances.”
Although those who have bills included in their rent payments won’t feel the immediate effects of rising energy prices, they will be affected by the government rebate program. All domestic electricity customers will receive PS200 off their monthly energy bills starting in October. Eighty percent of households will also get a PS150 Council Tax Rebate beginning in April. But here’s the catch: The catch?
Tom Allingham, Head Editor at Save the Student, says that the PS200 energy bill loan is not a good solution. Students who live in apartments where their energy bills are included with their rent will not be given a discount for October. However, they will need to pay an additional PS40 per year to fund the scheme. The final-year students will have to pay more for energy starting in April, but in many cases, they will be moving back in with their parents once they graduate. This will mean that you’ll have to pay many bills for the next few months and no refunds in the autumn.
The PS150 council tax reduction is not much better. He says that the government has forgotten that full-time students do not have to pay council tax. This measure was implemented because university students struggle to make ends meet regularly. This means they won’t get the PS150 refund in April despite dealing with rising living expenses.
He continued: “In summary, the government urgently must reconsider its proposals for meaningful support for students. Those at power have often overlooked this group.”
This wouldn’t be the first. Since March 2020, students have seen their lives become a mess since the pandemic started. Final year students will now face the possibility of entering the worst economic crisis for decades after being forced to learn in ‘hybrid’ learning and then being ignored by the government.