Hi guys! First of all I want to say thank you for the warm welcome from the writers team as I am new! I’m incredibly excited to start writing and working with all of you!
I am a first year studying Media, Communications and Cultural Studies at the wonderful Newcastle University. I absolutely love university, however I just can’t overlook the stress that student finance has brought me.
Before I even start, my first piece of advice is to START YOUR FINANCE APPLICATION EARLY. Very early, as soon as humanly possible as I often wonder if all the messing around with them could’ve been avoided if I didn’t put off my application to the last few weeks.
First of all, my background is incredibly complicated. My parents surnames do not match up, I was born in Ireland so my birth certificate is in Gaelic, and I had no photographic ID (such as a passport or a driver’s license). I thought I was a British citizen when in fact I was an EU citizen, and knowing that from day one would’ve made my process so much easier.
Student finance sent back my evidence and completely rejected my application and asked for documents from the Irish embassy (which I couldn’t get as I didn’t have an Irish passport either). I explained this on one of the first of many phone calls to their advisors. I was told to get a British passport as I was eligible for one. This is £100 that my single dad with 2 kids relying on benefits just didn’t have. Alas, I sorted the passport, sent a form off to SF and hoped for the best. At this point, university was fast approaching, results day was incredibly close and I was out of my mind with nerves.
They then told me I needed to prove that my mum and dad were divorced. Fine, okay, I sent the forms off and went to university. I then waited 6 weeks for them to process everything, with nothing coming of it. At this point, I was massively short of money and relying on my boyfriend who I live with for everything. I then found out they sent back my documents without knowing! So I sent them back again, and then again once more until finally I got that blessed text telling me my money was on its way!
My biggest piece of advice other than starting early would definitely have to be try to make sure you have all the documentation you need before even sending them away to be processed. Calling their helpful staff will be useful however be aware that every phone call I made I was told different things, so maybe call up a few times! The stress can be massively overwhelming, combined with that of your year 13 exams and results day, and maybe moving cities for university, so please take my advice if you are applying!
To anyone starting sixth form, or university this year, enjoy it! I regret not being more organised, as well as not making the most of those 2 years. Good luck!