Students shy from loans

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The Independent Online
STUDENTS are finishing their courses around pounds 2,000 in debt - 13 per cent up on last year, according to Barclays Bank.

But they are worried about getting too heavily into debt. The average debt to the Student Loan Company is pounds 699, while students can, on average, borrow pounds 1,205. The amount borrowed from banks is also less than the amount available.

Instead students are turning to their parents, who were cited as the main source of income by 31 per cent of college- goers, compared with 26 per cent last year. But debt to parents fell from 21 to 12 per cent, indicating that they are helping their offspring without hope of repayment.

Around half the parents are required to make a contribution to the grant. But only 68 per cent of students received the full amount, a quarter received part of the contribution, and 7 per cent nothing at all.

Barclays' survey covered 2,286 students at six universities - Strathclyde, Manchester Metropolitan, Sheffield, Warwick, Bristol and Westminster.

Fewer students are angry about being forced into debt by the Government policy of gradually substituting loans for grants. The largest group of students, 37 per cent, said they were resigned to debt.

More than three-quarters of students said they would approach their own banks for financial advice. Around half of Barclays student customers said they talked to their student adviser, while for all banks it is less than a third.

Julie Phillips, the Barclays student business officer in Plymouth, looks after 2,500 students. She said she tried to be firm but fair.

When students really go off the rails they have their cheque-books taken away and have to report to the bank weekly for 'dinner money'.

Students all received the same grants and loans, yet some courses were much more expensive than others, she said. Photography students, for example, had to spend pounds 30 to pounds 40 a week on equipment.

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