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To think 'household income' is extremely unfair when assessing student finance.

(210 Posts)
fontofnoknowledge Sun 27-May-18 17:39:08

Thought this when eldest DD first went to Uni however just accepted that this was how it is. Now Dss2 who lives with us has been at Uni since September - has bought a friend Home for the long weekend and talking to him has made me realise just how terrible this system is and how it makes some kids especially from hard Home lives, struggle even more. It is a system designed to make the poor even poorer.

Dss2's friend 'Tom', lived with his mum since he was 2. Dad not in his life. Never paid maintenance doesn't even know where he lives or if he's even alive. When he was 15 his mum met a new man. For whatever reason Tom doesn't like his mums bf. Nevertheless, he moved in when Tom was 16. He says it didn't really bother him as by then he was living his own life , good social life etc, so to be fair he just doesn't really 'know' this man. Tom gets to 18 and gets a place at Uni. Applies for student finance. The application wants 'household income'. Mums boyfriend refuses. Says his finances are none of anyone's business. Sf write to him three times requesting the information. He refuses saying he doesn't even know the boy properly. Has 3 kids of his own he is paying CM for and wants nothing to do with Toms student loan.
Even if it was provided, because he is a high rate tax payer Tom would get the minimum loan.
Because his mums bf didn't supply the info. Tom gets minimum loan and a letter telling his 'parents' (!) how much they must contribute to his finance.

Mother was a TA on tax credits before meeting partner. Now she just has her income. No tc. Boyfriend is tight with money and expects mum to contribute half bills leaving her very little for the month and nothing for son at Uni. Boyfriend will not pay Tom anything. He is working two jobs in order to pay rent. His Uni work is suffering and he is thinking of chucking it in as so stressful. He has had some help from student welfare, but it's still very tough.

AIBU to think that either children are Adults at 18 and should ALL be entitled to a full loan and not have it based on the earnings of your mothers boyfriend ??
As Adults their entitlements should be judged on their own finances, no one else's. Regardless of their resident parents household income ? The loan is repaid anyway so where is the loss ?

Conversely DDs best friend has a maximum loan as her mum lives on spousal maintenance. However non resident dad is very wealthy and sends her £500a month. She doesn't need a job as very well off.

Fibbertigibbet Sun 27-May-18 17:44:24

Tom's mum needs to not be in a relationship with such a horrid man who can't be bothered to get to know her DS and expects her to spend more than she can on bills.

But yes, I agree with you. My parents earned enough that I would get a reduced (but not minimum) loan. They also had loads of debt and so were unable to contribute to me going to university. I had to get married so I could be classed as an independent and afford to live (thankfully, this just brought a wedding that would have happened forward a few years, but I think a lot about other women in my situation who could have their hands forced and end up in an abusive marriage).

jedenfalls Sun 27-May-18 17:46:49

Totally agree.

Makes it difficult for adult parters who are both on low/ moderate incomes to improve their earnings by going to uni too. They are adults, it is a loan. Why the hell is it capped?

Thorsday Sun 27-May-18 17:48:17

They also bill it on a year or two ago, which I find immensely unfair. I just finished my 3rd year at uni with student loans and they paid based on my dad's wages when he was working a ton of overtime rather than this year, where he was working a lot less because he retired in January. It's been a struggle.

Isleepinahedgefund Sun 27-May-18 17:50:29

I agree it they should be assumed to be adults (as they are in all other senses) and all be entitled to take maximum student loan. This situation highlights it.

I also don’t think the boyfriend should be expected to contribute in any way toward his partner’s child’s university, just as the mother is not expected to contribute to maintenance for his children.

LegallyBrunet Sun 27-May-18 17:50:40

It’s a shit system. I’m sure five years ago when I first started uni- had to leave due to ill health and restart last year- step parent’s income only got taken into account if they’d legally adopted the child. Thankfully my stepdad has been in my life thirteen years and is a nice bloke so didn’t mind filling out the form this time round. Has your son’s friend tried ringing SFE and appealing?

Beamur Sun 27-May-18 17:51:45

Totally agree with you.
I am SM to my DH's 2 older children. Have had to declare my earnings for them to get student loans and it struck me then how unfair this system is on SC's who might have poor relationships with their step parents. DH and I weren't married when DSS applied.
We're still financially supporting DSD doing a postgrad. She's in her mid 20's. We've been helping the kids on and off for 6 years now!
I haven't resented this and to be fair, the kids Mum has paid more and both sets of GP's have also been very generous, but what about the kids who do not have this kind of financial support system? It isn't fair.

toboldlygo Sun 27-May-18 17:53:22

It's a stupid system. I had been living with a partner for three years when I applied for student finance. His income was not taken into account, but my mother's new partner's was. A man I didn't know, had never lived with and was in no way financially responsible for me.

gillybeanz Sun 27-May-18 17:54:23

It's not the system hurting the poor though.
You said yourself that if tom's rich step dad had given his earnings, Tom would have only got min finance due to his high income.
Surely, that's hurting the rich, not the poor.
tom won't have to pay back the loan until earning the required amount.
Apart from gov subsidising fees what else can change.

I won't be able to afford to help my dd very much, she will manage like all the others do.

Toms mum is with a right toss pot, it's he who is the problem, not the system.

dingdongdigeridoo Sun 27-May-18 17:54:34

It’s a crap system. I got full loans at uni because I was a mature student who had left home. But lots of people on my course were living in halls and were basically independent adults, but could only get the bare minimum because their parents earned ‘too much’. Even if they wouldn’t or couldn’t support them.

gillybeanz Sun 27-May-18 17:55:09

Posted too soon, also his dad is more to blame for not supporting his family.

myusernamewastakenbyme Sun 27-May-18 17:58:04

This is why i will stay single until my 2 boys have finished uni...i cannot afford to help them so at least whilst i live alone they get the maximum loan.

musicposy Sun 27-May-18 17:58:53

It's a shit system, I agree. Have just had to apply for DD2. Because we are not high earners she has almost full, but I noted there was no mention of mortgage etc (we are south and our very modest 3 bed terrace costs a fortune!). Also, we are trying to support elder DD through performing arts school for which there is no loan at all (she has a scholarship for fees but no maintenance). Of course we wouldn't help one and not the other, but the whole system is so flawed.

Both our DDs are adults and eldest over 21 now. I don't get why, despite losing all the child benefit etc for them, they are still somehow classed as dependent children for this and we are meant to support them. It should not be anything to do with what we earn, and yes, I think it serves to make the poor poorer.

Allthebestnamesareused Sun 27-May-18 17:59:05

Thorsday - in circumstances such as that you can ask the Student Finance to take this into consideration and they will reassess.

BigPinkBall Sun 27-May-18 18:01:20

I’m glad I wasn’t under this system when I was at uni, I didn’t go to uni until I was 21, the same year my younger sibling went, so my parents would have been expected to subsidise both of us at the same time - but in reality even though they could have afforded to they wouldn’t have, because they’re tight and they saw giving me £20 once a term as being generous.

musicposy Sun 27-May-18 18:04:08

I'm not sure Tom's Dad is the tosspot here, either. If you meet someone with adult children, should that really obligate you to pay to support them through uni? When you have your own to support? Obviously it would be a nice gesture to do so, but I'm not sure if I met and moved in with another adult with fully grown children, possibly in their early twenties, that I'd be very happy over that either.

Blueemeraldagain Sun 27-May-18 18:09:58

I agree. My mother refused to give any details over (she has a tendency to paranoid hysteria... thought “they” would use her details to do... “something”). I had to have two gaps years until I reached the minimum age to be considered independent (even if living at home) and applied on my teeny tiny TA wage.

TeaAddict235 Sun 27-May-18 18:11:37

No the original one to blame is Tom's actual blood father. The UK has allowed for years for absent parents (usually the father) to NOT HAVE to pay child payment for the entirety of a young person's life. How is it noble to allow so many parents to struggle because a selfish parent has decided to cut all ties? It should be a criminal and punishable offence.

MrsDylanBlue Sun 27-May-18 18:14:26

YANBU DH wage was taken into consideration when DD applied.

He’s not her dad and he is financially responsible for his own children not mine.

We earn way too much hmm

MiniMum97 Sun 27-May-18 18:23:19

I agree too. I think the system is completely unfair. My son's uni loan is effectively being calculated based on my husband's income. The fact that I and his dad have a very low income is irrelevant. Luckily for my son, his "step-dad" is happy to contribute, but I have wondered before about situations like the OP describes where the step parent is not happy to contribute so it is interesting to hear the OPs story.

It's also important to note that parents are expected to contribute something from when household income is as little as £25K a year. Which is a very low income especially in the south of the UK. If your household income is about £60K this year then you can only have the minimum loan and parents are expected to find the full difference (and probably a bit more). 60K is not a bad income of course but I would expect that it would still be a difficult amount to find £400 + pcm out of on top of all your other outgoings. And nowhere do SL take into account those outgoings so if you have a large mortgage, or three other children for example - some of whom may be going to uni at the same time (I think a small allowance is accounted for this but not anything that would make a real difference to most people). Frankly, I don't know how most people afford to do it.

We are lucky in that my husband earns a good salary and we can manage it with some cut-backs. I think there are probably a whole host of children out there with parents who earn the £30K mark each whose parents can't afford an extra £400+pcm who just can't go to university at all.

woodhill Sun 27-May-18 18:28:23

My gripe with it is the high interest rate. No one can get that on their savings. Should be just above BOE rate

Momo27 Sun 27-May-18 18:28:39

It’s completely unfair. It’s a loan ; therefore loan the full maintenance money to all students of adult age (ie 18 upward ) They are all then on a level playing field. They don’t need to start making repayments until they are earning over the threshold.

It’s not just about step parents- it’s fucking unfair to many parents who are still together, who both work, necessarily in high earning roles but whose income combined to make the household income too high to get the full loan.

CountFosco Sun 27-May-18 18:43:12

Seems crazy to be household rather than parental income. Don't live with a poor single parent you're in a romantic relationship with is clearly the message. But also, the continued, walk away from your marriage and you will no longer have to support your children.

Turnocks34 Sun 27-May-18 18:43:24

I really struggled at university. My parents had a decent income, but I had two siblings and they had a deal of debt. I got none of the grant, just the loan. It didn’t cover my accommodation. My parents couldn’t afford the full top up either so I worked 40 hours a week to supplement this the full three years I was three.

Was doable, I loved my bar job, met my Oh there and to be honest, it did teach me a valuable lesson BUT I only got a 2:1. I missed a lot of studying time due to working and I feel I could have done better.

I am saving now to be able to ensure I can help my sons if they choose to attend university.

mygrandchildrenrock Sun 27-May-18 18:53:15

Thorsday your parents can do a form called something like 'in year change of income'. I will be retiring before my youngest finishes Uni and when I was talking to the student loan people about this, and the fact they will base her application on the previous year when I was still working, they told me about this form. You can only apply for an in year change if your income drops by more than 30%. Still worth knowing about.

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