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Student Funding Nightmare!!

Apologies if this is in the wrong section!


I'm a student coming to the end of my first year of my degree. During my first year I received around £5,000 funding after moving into my boyfriend's mums house in September (I think the funding people classed it as a shared house). In December we moved into our own place - a flat, rented privately. It goes without saying that things have been tough as my boyfriend is agoraphobic so gets DLA (Disability Living Allowance) of around £150 a month, and I get around £250 wages from my job on weekends. We've had to borrow from friends and family just to keep our heads above water - applications for housing benefit and other financial support took AGES to go through and last week - despite our circumstances staying exactly the same - we were told our housing benefit and income support were stopping with no explanation offered. We queried this and are still waiting for a reply.

So as of this moment I'm a full time student with part time earnings, and my boyfriend gets DLA - AND THATS IT!!!!

Just to make things worse, my student funding for academic year 2011/12 has begun to be processed, and my funding for next year will be HALF of what I've got since I started uni. I won't be able to earn any more money at work as my timetable is going to be even more full as I go in to my second year.

Thanks a lot student funding!

What are we meant to do? This year has been hard enough as it is - god knows what its going to be like next year with even less money.

Any of you got any advice?

Sorry I just had to rant argh!
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By 'funding' do you mean student loan or a grant?

Sorry to hear you're having difficulties, I hope you can get things sorted. Is there any chance you can move into a room in a shared house again, rather than being in your own flat?
I would also suggest moving to something which is cheaper, I know it's not what you want to do, but it's not forever, & just a short-term plan.

Just brainstorming here, but is it possible for you bf to get a job where he can work from home. The other thing I though of was could you do Avon, I notice you like walking, you could do the delivery part & your bf could the ordering/bagging up etc.

I'm sure you have, but have you checked to see if you receive all your allowances.

Would it be possible for you to go to Uni part-time & work more?
Thanks for ur replies :)

We phoned housing benefit today and they said they will get round to assessing our claim next week, which isn't too bad I guesss but doesn't help us now : /

@ Rigby : funding means both (to me anyway lol) 2010/11 I got both loans and grants as well as bursaries, next year I think it's just strictly loans. I've thought about moving into a shared place, but proper student houses mostly fit into the sterotypical alcohol-fuelled student life which doesnt suit me at all lol My boyfriend experiences social phobia due to his agoraphobia so not sure how practical a shared house would be - I wish things could be more straightforward!

@ HappyHolidays : I've suggested to my boyfriend that if we stop living together, his benefits would increase again as he would get his own income support etc and I could live in a shared house and work more hours as my wages wouldn't affect anything - only MAJOR downside is that we wouldn't be seeing each other much any more. I did Avon once before when I was still living with my mum, it's a good idea especially to get my boyfriend involved, but from what I remember Avon earnings can mess up benefit claims as it's extra income. As far as I know we've applied for everything we can but I will definitely check. The main thing thats screwed everything up is that over Christmas I did some overtime at work as people were off sick etc and ended up being £3 over the limit for income support which is where all our trouble started, now nearly 5months later things still aren't sorted. It's ridiculous. I've thought about going uni part time so I could work more but I think that would make my student funding even less, also I don't think work would be able to give me any more hours and if I took on a second job everything would need to be reassesses yet again - everything just takes so long :(

So annoying! Seems to me that if u try to better urself by doing a uni course and support urself by working at the same time there's not a lot of help, you would think under the circumstances of our very low combined income what with my boyfriend being agoraphobic etc we would be entitled to financial help. I understand the benefits people are sorting it out but how do they think we've survived the past few months? We haven't been living off air alone, still had rent and bills to pay so now we owe my mum money for helping us out too.
I've thought about moving into a shared place, but proper student houses mostly fit into the sterotypical alcohol-fuelled student life which doesnt suit me at all lol
How about the sort of shared house lived in by graduate students studying for further qualifications? That might be more suited to you and your boyfriend, you might find there are less parties and less drinking amongst slightly older students than with eighteen or nineteen year olds? (I realise I don't speak for all students there, I'm a student myself and I don't drink either)
That's a good idea :) There is always the option of looking at a room in a private property, like people whose kids have moved out or something who are looking to rent out a spare room. It all depends on how well my boyfriend would deal with it


wants a dancer's body.
Yep defo look into grad houses or into clubs in the university that attract a certain type of people and ask there (in Ireland we have St. Vincent de Paul groups on campus to help the poor). Those sorts of people are more concerned with spending their evenings helping the homeless/poor than drinking sessions at home. Student digs in people's homes as you mentioned is a great idea. Stick your wanted signs on the grad noticeboards and ask some lecturing assistants do they know of anyone.

You'll see even less of your fella if you have to work more because of low income. I hope he's supporting you as much as he can, try not to carry this burden alone out of love for him. There are two of you in it, I suffered from the same thing but it doesn't affect the brain. In fact, sitting down at home and helping you resolve this will build his self esteem, every little bit helps. Sometimes being like that can paralyse the decision making faculties as you feel vulnerable and powerless, this problem is a great way to empower him. The best of luck!!!


WILL do it!
thanks for ur advice :) some really good ideas. going off topic a bit here but well done on ur weight loss too!


Likes cheese
Perhaps if you and your boyfriend WERE to live apart for a while while you were studying, it would help him overcome his agoraphobia? It gives him a stronger incentive to leave the house to see you. As a recovered agoraphobic I know how he feels, and it's all little steps to get there, but if there's a carrot being dangled then it really does help, otherwise the temptation is to sit at him, watch Kilroy and not deal with it. Long term, the best thing would be for him to get himself confident enough to get out in the wider world again, but in the short run, living apart might well be the better option both financially and medically.


WILL do it!
thats a really good point Dominoid, makes a lot of sense. when we first got together he actually did walk out to my house a few times which is about an hour walk round-trip, so i think youve got a good point. if u dont mind me asking, how long had u been agoraphobic for? how did u recover?


Likes cheese
It was diagnosed when I was about 17. I'd been bad before then but I'd never really had a name for it or knew why I just didn't want to leave the house sometimes. At it's worst point, I hadn't left the flat at all, even to the hallway or to take the rubbish out, for nearly 2 weeks, so my gf at the time dragged me kicking and screaming (literally!) to the doctor and I got put on Citalopram and given some breathing exercises as well as Diazepam for panic attacks. It's generally related to another mental condition (in my case general anxiety/depression) and if this is the case, then the agoraphobia is a symptom and dealing with the root cause will make it manageable. I spent about 3 years in total on Citalopram and I've had about a year of CBT to deal with the anxiety and although it never really goes away and I still have occasional days when I don't want to leave the house, I'm generally able to just get on with it if I have to and get through these days and it hasn't really limited me for a couple of years now :)
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WILL do it!
must have been hard for u - well done on beating it though! even if it isnt 100% all the time, its better than not being able to deal with things in the way ur able to now.

i think my boyfriends problem is mainly that, with things he perhaps doesnt feel up to doing, he acts really slovenly and like he cant be bothered, which makes me lose my temper and then i feel guilty. but rather than tell me hes having a bad day, he'll just say he cant be bothered which leaves me to do pretty much everything. im sure he wants to overcome being agoraphobic but sometimes it just seems like he cant be bothered and it really frustrates me. he takes citalopram and had diazepam when he was younger as it started out with just panic attacks, (anxiety, same as u) but he had really bad nightmares on them and sleep paralysis which understandably put him off. right now theres a drama cuz he needs to have a tooth out but obviously cant go to the dentist, and cuz there would be anaesthetic etc involved, the dentist is refusing to do it as a home visit, which i guess is them looking out for themselves as they dont want anything to go wrong. but its getting to the point where all i can say is "well ur going to have to go the dentist!" which upsets him and, again, i feel guilty. but i cant pull the damn tooth out myself!

it feels like his issues are stopping us from doing "normal" things - we've never been out for a drink or a restaurant or the cinema or anything. i know its easier said than done but i just want him to better already and for us to build our future together :(


Likes cheese
the key thing is he has to want to overcome it. You say you're sure he does but if you have to assume it, it probably suggests that he's never said out loud that he really does want to work around it. It does get like that. It's not that he's being lazy, but it's pretty hard to admit that "actually, I'm scared for no apparent reason of doing things that everyone else does" and it's easier to just pretend to be lazy!


WILL do it!
he pretends incredibly well lol we were discussing last night, and kind of got to the point where he said hes scared of getting better in a way, cuz that would mean a huge change to his life - he'd have to get a job, get up early in the morning and deal with things he doesnt have to/cant right now. and he could finally have a "normal" life again. if i was him i'd be apprehensive too cuz of all the changes, but i agree nothings going to happen unless he actually wants it to and is prepared to put the work in


Likes cheese
It sounds like he's admitted that he knows how big the problem is and how difficult it is going to be for him. That's brilliant. The hardest step is to stand up and tell the people you love "you know what? I'm really ****ed up right now" so it's awesome he's done that :) Best that he doesn't think of how far he's going to go, cos then it'll feel like a mountain, and work on little goals, like being able to take the rubbish out or nip to the newsagents etc. Actually, thinking about it, that's not that different to the whole weight loss thing really is it? XD


WILL do it!
thats true! lol its easier to think of losing a stone rather than 6 or 7 :D hows ur weight loss and diet going?

i think his family are used to him being like this really, cuz hes been ill for 5 years and we've only been together for just over 2 years, but ive never even known any1 who was agoraphobic let alone be in a relationship with them so its all new for me. i dont want to keep nagging him to nip out but sometimes when i say "how about u go to the shop and get bread" or whatever i can think of, (the shop's only about a minute walk away) and he looks at me like im mad. although to be fair, he did go of his own accord when i was at work a few months ago and it really shocked me. without wanting to sound patronising, i was really proud of that :) i just hope he keeps doing small things like that, preferably without me nagging lol

i feel like theres a whole side of him ive never met, the side which is able to go out and have fun and be sociable, i know its in him somewhere just need to find it!


Likes cheese
Mine's not going anywhere yet as I only really started Saturday so I've not weighed myself again yet! I have managed to stick to a pretty healthy day so far and bought another bucketload of fruit vegetables today (there's never been so many green things in our house!)

I'm sure he will get there eventually. It sounds like it's definitely getting there so it's all about embracing those little steps and trying to repeat them.


WILL do it!
its so nice to have someone that can talk from his point of view, its like u say the things he doesnt want to. its nice when u get a load of fruit and veg in, makes u feel healthy just looking at it :D
Saw this an had to reply! I give benefits advice as a volunteer and you absolutely need to head straight to the CAB or any other organisation in your area. They will help sort your boyfriends claims. He should be getting income support in addition to DLA. Most councils won't give housing benefit to full time students as your student loans package is meant to pay for accomadation. You should be on the highest loan rate of about 9k a year as you only work part time so get into your uni's finance office. Also all uni's have a hardship fund. This covers any shortfall in income that would prevent you from completing your studies. You fill out a form and they assess your income and make an extra bursary payment that you dont have to repay! Ive seen ppl get £3000+ CAB may or may not do home visits so be sure to ask! Also a great charity that lots of my low income clients use is CHRISTIANS AGAINST POVERTY. You don't have to be Christian to get help and they will take all the stress out of any debt management you need. Also they can help you set up a really good bill payment service to help budget that student loan money across each term! Lots of info there but to recap.....your boyfriend needs a benefits check and you need to speak to your finance office at the uni about the hardship fund and your loan amounts. If you have debts that are eating into your income then a debt management plan will reduce those payments and leave you more to live on each month. Good luck!
thankyou legomom! some really good advice, will definitely go to the finance office and try to sort something out, and will give the benefits office a kick up the bum :)

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