Sorry. That last post was a heat of the moment, crying on the overground, feeling suicidal and being overly dramatic in my statements. The statement is still true though. I realise I should probably elaborate, but it’s kinda long and boring and finance related.
I am pretty darn poor. My family has been lucky and worked hard in the past and we have a nice house and have paid off the mortgage and live in a nice area and have nice things, but as the recession started, the Ma (who was a very high paid head teacher) decided to spend the last years of her working life doing something fun, so chose to slice her paid to under half and work as a nursery teacher. At the same time, the Pa (who works for the local council on social worker pay) got a. Pay freeze and lots of additional financial job benefits (like car fuel allowance) removed, so his salary dropped too. With rising living costs, the Fam aren’t as wealthy as they were and don’t have a lot of disposable money. Saying that, the Ma just got a £6,000 tax refund, but that’s going towards having a new kitchen fitted.
Although they do pay for my food and I don’t pay rent, I’m still pretty poor as benefits really aren’t that much. I get enough to save up to buy nice things if I want to, but mostly it goes on extra groceries, socialising and cigarettes. I spend way beyond my means, and my parents can no longer afford to support my yoga classes, travel expenses or uni costs, so now I’m just getting poorer. I still think I’ll be ok. Yoga is a luxury I can drop if I need to (even though it’s good for my mental health), and if I get a freedom pass that’ll help. I didn’t really think uni costs would be an issue. Turns out they are.
I have to start paying off my Professional Careers Development Loan in a couple of weeks as I was meant to have graduated by now and that’s like £90 a month which is almost a quarter of my benefits. I was ok with that, but deferring my place at uni has had some previously unknown complications.
As you probably know, I deferred my dissertation and today I went into uni to re-enrol. I was actually really excited. I put on an actual dress and nice make up and perfume and was going into uni to start trying to get my study up and running again. I was excited. I love learning and wanted to start getting to everything I needed organised in order to actually get on top of studying. I mean, the main reason I brought an iPad was to help me with my students because of the real aloud software you can access and the fact that it’s so easy to make note and keep shit organised using tablet computers, plus way less printing money for PDFs of journal articles. Anyway, I digress. The important part was that I was excited. The HTT woman who came today told me how much brighter and cheerier I looked than usual. I felt really good.
Basically, as the only unit I deferred was my dissertation, I’ve been registered as a ‘non-attending’ student which costs £30. That was fine by me. I mean, I’m broke right now but it’s not too much. I got the cash out to pay for it as I’m trying to transfer bank accounts at the moment and know that outgoings from cash machines are registered quicker than card transactions in shops and stuff. Turns out I had to pay by card anyway, which pissed me off, but it only got worse.
The issue is that, in being a non-attending student is that it essentially means you can’t get any support. And I really do mean any. Using the library, getting a library card so I could access Senate House library, would get incredibly limited academic support, can’t get access to Disabled Student Allowance, so can’t get the funding needed for the disability team to offer me support at all. That would be fine if I didn’t need support or had enough money to access the library, but the problem is that I’m actually really unwell at the moment and have been for a long time. I need support and structure and help if I’m going to be able to do this. And I need to be able to access the library, though they as for a lump sum for the amount of time you’d be using it, which I can’t really afford. Plus the library isn’t that well stocked on anthropology so I’d need access to Senate House. And academic journals which Goldsmiths don’t have subscriptions too but Senate House do. Senate House costs a lot for an annual subscription, even if they’d allow me as a student. Dissertations are research based so I’d need access to actual academic literature. And support from the disability team. Completing my studies would be near impossible.
Problem is, if I were to be a part-time attending student, I’d have to pay the tuition fees for the percentage of my degree I’ve deferred. Being a dissertation, it’s worth a third of my degree, which is £1,500 even though it involves the least teaching and seminar time then any other aspects of my course. If it’d been one of my units, I would have been half that price. I aced all my units despite my illnesses, but the dissertation is the one part I couldn’t manage and it happens to be the most expensive part. I held it together through all the taught subjects, through anorexia and recovery from anorexia. I didn’t even know what support my university could offer me, so I got none and did it all on my own. I worked my arse off till I literally got too sick to keep going, and now I want to actually get this together, I can’t. I need the support I didn’t know I could have accessed and I need the fucking library.
It’s not even like I’d cost the uni that much because I’m pretty sure my department would support me regardless seeing as they’re quite nice, so that cost wouldn’t change. All I need is the ability to apply for government funding for DSA and access to academic literature. The cost to them would be fucking nothing really.
I can’t apply for a bursary or scholarship or anything because the deadline for applications for that kind of financial support is before the academic year starts, but I couldn’t have applied for that seeing as the exam board only decided upon my application for a deferral like two weeks ago. There is literally no financial support to help me pay my tuition fees available to me now.
Without being an attending student, I don’t think it’s likely I’ll be able to get enough support or research material needed to actually complete a decent dissertation within this next year. I’m too poor and too ill right now. I basically have three options:
1) try to complete my dissertation as it is and probably not do too well, but finish my degree.
2) take a year out and hope that in a year, I’ll be more able to complete my dissertation to a higher standard, but maybe not. Just wait it out and see. Plus if I drag out my degree any longer, I’ll probably just give up all together.
3) drop out entirely because I don’t see how I can complete this degree to any kind of acceptable standard or the standard I can achieve if I can get the same options as an attending student.
4) hope upon hope that the admin staff in my department can achieve what they are going to try to achieve. This lovely guy named Huw is going to try get my fees waived and get me attending student status, but this’ll take a week or two to find out. This is the number one option, but totally out of my control.
So anyway, by the time I got off the tube (half three ish), I felt so fucking awful it was ridiculous. I was cold and it was raining and I felt like death because I was coughing, had tear stained make up face, sniffling and miserable and I was hungry seeing as I’d last eaten a bowl of cereal for breakfast at 9am. I considered going to Primark to buy a jumper to make me feel better, but realised I was too poor very quickly. I had to go to NatWest to put my money back into my bank account and cried a bit because I was too stressed. I walked past this greasy spoon and they had a sign that said “homemade bolognese only £4.95” and I so badly wanted a warm meal I almost did it, then realised I was too poor. The I walked past Costa and almost got a gingerbread latte, but again, realised I was too poor for such a luxury. I still wanted to treat myself though, so I went to the 99p store and got 6 cans of Diet Coke for £1.98. I figured they’d last longer than one warm coffee. I then went home and had make and eat lunch (a cold meal :( ) and washed my face and took of all my nice jewellery and clothes and realised it was starting to get dark so I wouldn’t be able to walk my dog then just cried again. I contemplated killing myself. If I don’t have my intelligence, I’m nothing. When I was asked by the IMPART people to describe myself, I said “articulate, smart and academic… I honestly don’t know what else.” I got over it eventually and am now curled up in bed in leggings and a baggy jumper, waiting for today to end.
Urgh. If this gets fucked, I literally have nothing in my life but mental health treatment. All I’ll be doing is treatment. I so desperately need something else so I have a reason to actually bother to get better. I feel so horrible right now.
So there. An explanation.