'Cost of living crisis' looms for students, with an average shortfall of more than £7,000

Student loans have not matched the spiralling cost of living, says the NUS

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The Independent Online

Too many new students are unable to afford the cost of living, according to the NUS.

Taking into account basic sundries like food, rent and travel, the average student will experience a funding shortfall of more than £7,600 per year - something that the NUS is calling a "student living crisis".

Looking at basic costs for students averaged over a 39-week academic year in 2013/14, the NUS compared these with typical Government maintenance and loan payments for the same period. It discovered that students outside London will be short by an average of £7,693. London students, meanwhile, will be out of pocket by £7,654.

While student loans are available for fees and maintenance, the NUS insists that they have not kept pace with rising living costs.

Student life for those studying outside London costs an average of £21,440, of which, £12,160 goes living costs such as rent, food, insurance, travel and leisure. The rest is spent on tuition fees and study-related costs like books. This is all done on an average income from fees and loans of just £13,747.

London is more expensive, costing a total of £23,187, of which £13,521 is living costs, on an income of £15,533.

Toni Pearce, the NUS president, said that students starting university this month would be faced with a "cost of living crisis" and "spiralling bills for basic essentials".

"Those who do not have the rare luxury of resorting to the 'bank of mum and dad' are increasingly being driven to work full-time alongside study where jobs can be found, or, worse still, into the arms of predatory payday lenders just to make ends meet," she said.

"We need a financial support system that ensures students get the support they need, when they need it."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: "The student finance package targets limited Government resources at those who need it most. This year, students from the lowest income households can access over £7,100 of living cost support, of which over £3,350 does not have to be repaid."