Writing this feels bizarre. If you’d told me five years ago that I’d be in this situation, I’d have laughed in your face. I was always a good student; smart, hardworking, diligent. My mother, although we didn’t have much money growing up, always prioritised my education above all else.
I was studying for A-Levels, and my mum budgeted tightly so that we could have some money spare for private tuition, as I was applying to Oxford and wasn’t confident I could pass the entrance exam without it. My school rarely sent pupils to Oxford or Cambridge, so there wasn’t much support from them as they just didn’t have the resourced.
Anyway, long story short the tuition paid off, and I got into my dream university (not Oxford in the end, but I was much happier). I was over the moon. Once there, I was sure to get a part time job alongside my studies so that I could support myself without relying on my mother. Still, the costs of living kept mounting. My student loan and grant just about covered my rent and bills for the year. The money I made part time funded everything else.
Still, by the time I finished my first year, I was £2000 into my overdraft. I appealed to the University hardship fund, but I didn’t qualify as I was already the recipient of the government grant; they didn’t seem to care that their cheapest accommodation was only slightly less than my living loan and grant combined. I was forced to take out a traditional bank loan of £10,000, as that was the amount I estimated would sustain me for the next few years of university. The money took the pressure of me short term, and I came out with a degree I am proud of, and I got my dream job working as a video game designer.
I am truly thankful for my mum, who encouraged me to pursue my dreams, and I am grateful for the education I have received and the opportunities it has given me. My salary though, is entry level, and I have to live in a very expensive location for my job. I flatshare, and don’t go out much, because alongside my rent I am paying back around £350 a month in loans. That leaves me around £200 for food, and I’m truly scared. I’ve never missed a loan payment, but I know that if I miss even a week of work due to illness (I’m a contractor so don’t get sick pay), I’ll be in real trouble.
I can’t ask my family for money, as my mum never had much herself and has sacrificed so much for me already. I’d like to have my debts paid down (I’ve paid around £4,000 off since graduating) so I can start saving. I’d also like to do something nice for my mum, as a thank you for everything she’s given me.
If you’ve read this far, thank you – I’m genuinely grateful to each and every human being who has taken the time to read my story!