Reform student loans company to prevent inequalities in education for low income students

Reform student loans company to prevent inequalities in education for low income students

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Chris Lodge started this petition to UK Parliament and

My girlfriend Liv Coates has always lived with her mum who is a single parent. Her mum works in a school as a teaching assistant and so has a low income. Olivia attends the University of York and is currently in her 3rd year of Child Nursing and every year she has received maximum student loan as her mum, who earns minimum wage, cannot afford to support her.

In the summer of 2019, her mum got married to her step dad which has now increased her household income. Student finance allocates loan based on your household income and so now deems her ineligible for the full loan. However, her financial situation has not changed as her mum and her step father are unable to and should not be expected to support her, as between them they have 3 young children to support and Olivia is an adult and not his child.

Liv found out in April that she would only receive £3987 instead of £10,539. Rent prices in York are very high for students and so most of this would be towards rent, which for the year is £8060. 

Since she found this out in April she has called student finance over 10 times and in the beginning was reassured it would be okay and that due to her circumstance her step dad's income would not need to be taken into account. After filling out countless forms and taking numerous phone calls, in September she was told that this was not correct and she had been misinformed by every member of the student loans company she spoke to. She was then told that this would be the amount she receives and that there is nothing more they could do. 

This is clearly an exceptional circumstance that is overlooked by the student finance process and so it needs to change. It should not be expected for her step dad to support her and so his income should not be relevant to her application. Without receiving more money she will be unable to pay rent and buy food and so it will be unlikely that she can continue with her course, which is an insult as she has worked on hospital placements for 2 years for free, including across the pandemic.

Student finance must change the way they assess income or at least make it possible to apply for exceptional circumstances. If they don't, then hundreds of students like Liv will continue to slip through the cracks and our education system will continue to discriminate against people who come from a less privileged background. 

Thank you for reading and please sign and share!

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