Getting to grips with student finance is hard enough as it is, but when a parent’s second marriage can interfere with their child’s ability to support themselves at university the whole process becomes even more daunting. I could go into the ins and outs of the student finance application process but I think this specific circumstance needs to be addressed head on.
Within my student house three out of six of us are children of divorce. Which means absolutely nothing in terms of the way we socialise, study or generally live at university. However, for two of my housemates where they should be receiving an increased maintenance loan (going towards rent, bills and general living costs) there is potential for them to receive less than those who are supported by both of their parents.
From the happy prospect of second marriage comes the threat of further financial debt than the ever-increasing stack of student loan. Two of my housemates’ student finances is based off their mother’s income as their primary carer, yet when they remarry the new husband’s income is taken into consideration. As a result, the mum’s household income is seen as greater by student finance and therefore it is assumed that they have the capability to support their children without the aid of their previous student loan amount.
This possible reduction is introduced because a student with a new stepparent is supposedly supported by them. This is assuming they 1) have the financial capabilities to do so, 2) have no children themselves who they are supporting, and most importantly 3) that they make the decision to do this when no student I know would ever expect their stepparent to give them any financial support.
Of the two people I know experiencing this their circumstances are slightly different yet both are impacted in some way. For one housemate her mum remarried before university and as a result can only afford to attend with her dad paying her rent. For the other, her mum is remarrying soon and although she currently receives the maximum loan with no aid from her parents, her loan could be reduced and then her parents would have to find the money to support her.
Although there are so many issues and controversial aspects to the student loan system that are far more complicated, the idea that choosing to remarry can impact your child’s future is certainly unfair.
As of yet there is no clear solution to the flawed system so this post is more of a rant than any form of advice – but I hope it still provides some insight into how the student loan works and the inequalities there are in student living.
Blog by Uni Student Kate in Brighton