STUDENT DEBT Case studies

Student debt - what does it mean and how serious is it. Here, two students tell how they managed.Case study 1: Payback time Sarah Bird, 24, who lives in Norwich, graduated from Sheffield two years ago with £15,000 of debt - despite working part-time to help fund her studies.

Student debt - what does it mean and how serious is it. Here, two students tell how they managed.

Case study 1: Payback time

Sarah Bird, 24, who lives in Norwich, graduated from Sheffield two years ago with £15,000 of debt - despite working part-time to help fund her studies. Most of that was student loans, although she also had £2,000 overdraft, but no credit card debt. She now works for Online Media Group in the city, and has been paying back her student loan for around a year. She estimates that she has paid £1,000 off so far. She is also repaying a graduate loan, which she had to take out to clear her overdraft, and has £3,000 still to pay.

She said that money was a concern when deciding whether to go to university. “My main concern was living costs, but I think the fact that more and more people have got degrees means there is pressure to go to university.


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“When I first graduated it took me a couple of months to get even a temping job. That was the period I found hardest. I suddenly had a big rent cheque to pay and I was already at the bottom of my overdraft.

“It is a lot to pay back, but I definitely think it was worth it in terms of life experience as well as career prospects. It helped me to get a good job.”

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Case study 2: Music student

Jack Stamp, 19, from Aylsham, is in the second year of a music degree at UEA.

He gets a student loan of £1,300 each term and also works every morning to fund his studies. He is renting accommodation in Blickling rather than Norwich in order to save money, and hopes to keep his debt down to £15,000 by the time he graduates.

He said: “So many people are getting degrees, if you haven't got one then you are at a disadvantage. I tried to go into the army and they said go away and do a degree.

“My main expense is running a car, but it means I can live in Blickling and save a considerable amount of rent. I probably won't owe as much as people who have gone to university “properly” and I feel I have got a better balance in life.

“I don't agree with this attitude of borrow now, pay later. I am not keen on how banks promote borrowing to students and offer credit cards and limitless overdrafts.”

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