Students in debt

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The Independent Online
Getting Thomas Evans through his first year at Hull University has been a team effort, with his parents taking most of the strain, writes Dido Sandler.

Mr Evans is one of the students featured in the Independent/Barclays Bank Families Facing University series, tracking students' financial progress through higher education.

His parents, Merrilyn and Grant, were pounds 70 over the qualifying limit so he does not receive a grant. His parents are expected to pay out instead. "It's been a terrible struggle. We've tried to find pounds 3,000 out of nowhere. We haven't felt this hard-up since we first got married,'' says Merrilyn.

The Evanses have two other children to support, both now at secondary school. There is a three-year gap between each child, and all are likely to go to university. They will need to find pounds 27,000 to see all three offspring through higher education.

The full grant for 1994/95 was pounds 2,040. Thomas's hall fees alone cost pounds 1,900. The Evanses paid these, gave their son pounds 70 per month to live on, plus extras.

Mr Evans has taken out a pounds 400 student loan - to finance a weight-lifting instructor's course, which he feels will be a good investment. He has an overdraft of pounds 100.

His weekly outgoings add up to pounds 135, or pounds 4,050 a year. This sum includes hall fees, pounds 100 a term on clothes, pounds 5-pounds 10 a week on sport, pounds 20 for food - he eats a lot because of the sport - pounds 5 on transport, pounds 20 on going out, and pounds 200 a year on books.

He works hard to make up for the pounds 1,000 shortfall between what his parents give him and what he needs to get by. There is nothing available in Hull. But there are plenty of opportunities in Reading, where his parents live, and where he spends his holidays. He's already done spells working for a caterer at Ascot and Henley Regatta this summer, and is planning more to help him to save up for a holiday, and for next year at college.

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