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Covid: How are students financially coping during the pandemic?

A report by the National Union of Students reveals that more than 80% of the students are worried about how to manage financially. Students have become increasingly worried about the impact of the Coronavirus on their finances, the report suggests.

The study found that the pandemic has had a major impact on students’ finances for several key reasons:

  • An overall reduction in income part time jobs furloughing and making students redundant
  • Accommodation rent payments even when students have moved back home
  • Increased worries about employability after graduation – with graduate employers being more reluctant to hire at the moment and a possible oncoming recession
  • Students are still paying full tuition fees adding to worry about student debt.

Here are three students who came forward to share how they have been coping financially as they have either been let go from their jobs or been looking for part time jobs during the pandemic.

Sophie Perkins (21)

“Its been really difficult not being able to work throughout the pandemic. Just before the lockdown I had just gotten a job as a bartender which was really exciting as it had taken me a while to find a job that suits my lifestyle and personality so well, as well as being reasonably paid. Not long after lockdown was announced, and only a few shifts into my job, I was let go from the job, meaning from March until August I was earning no money. In August they re-hired me and I worked throughout the ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ Scheme, which was physically demanding (despite 12 hours shifts most days, and having to commute from Cwmbran) but I was glad to be able to earn money. Unfortunately, at the end of September I was told that we would be at risk of closing once again, but assured we would keep our jobs. Not two days after this meeting, I got a call telling me I was to be let go again. This was very distressing as the money I had earned in August and September had been mostly spent on petrol and food, a little put towards saving to rent a home in Cardiff for post graduation. 

“Since then I have had no way of earning money, and as I am not eligible for a loan as the government expects my parents to pay for my education. Luckily, they are really supportive and have been fortunate enough to do this, but if they didn’t help me out I wouldn’t even be able to afford to get an education, let alone afford food or a roof over my head. This lack of loan also means I have to rely on my parents to send me £100 a month so I can afford to eat. I have had to dip in to my savings as sometimes £100 isn’t sufficient for my diet, which is frustrating as it means I may not be able to afford to live here after graduation. It’s been ridiculously stressful to say the least, but I have hopes once my course ends in spring I can try to sell my art to make some money, and potentially get a job if the lockdown rules relax once again. However, there is always a risk if i get a job, i will be let go if last year’s events repeat themselves.”

Alexander Griffiths (23)

“I’ve worked full time since I was a teenager, I had intended to work part time as a student to support myself and save the bulk of my loan. But the pandemic has made that impossible. I’m lucky in that my loan is enough to get by on but I hate not working, it makes meeting people harder and I have so much dead space in my day”.

Praveen Balaganesh (26)

“Applying for every vacancy and kept getting rejected or no response just gets really frustrating. It’s gotten to a point where I’m not even trying anymore. I’m coping well with my student loan, I’m not a big spender. I pay rent and buy groceries at Lidl and use all the coupons or buy at Tesco with club card price. It’s definitely eating into it and I don’t want to see it go down. Ideally I really only want a part-time even like a ten hour per week work schedule so I can manage uni as well. Just want some extra cash for security but student loan is currently more than enough for my lifestyle.”

Words and Images by Aarthy Balaganesh

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