How do you pay your study?

T hey say the time you study, is the best you’ll ever have. You find friends for life, broaden your horizon and actually build a future for yourself. But it’s also the time where everything seems super expensive and your wallet is constantly empty. Surprisingly this seems even a problem for students in countries where education is free.

Some of our correspondents choose to study with help of a student loan and will most likely end up with a debt (like a lot of American students), while others work as much as possible to afford their student life. These real-life scenario’s are explored by our local correspondents, who tell you how they experience the costs of being young and education bills that need to be paid.

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Karoliina Toivakka (22)

Helsinki, Finland

10 euros for a crappy pizza really makes one suffer

B eing a student in a country with free education is something to be grateful for. Finland is one of the most expensive countries in the world, which doesn’t suit the wallet of a student.

Some 500 euros for housing, 13 euros for a movie ticket and 10 euros for a crappy pizza really makes one suffer. Luckily students are able to get 50 percent off from public transportation tickets and get to eat in a student restaurant for two or three euros.

"I use all the possible ways to get money to live" Me, as well as the majority of my friends, use all the possible ways to get money to live. I receive the monthly student grant and take the student loan while also working as much as I am able to.

The government of Finland does not, however, really encourage to work while studying as it wants us to graduate in time. The wage limits for the student grants make sure that one must either refuse to take the grant and work more, or bear the costs of living with the loan.

Fortunately I also have parents who are always there to help me when I’m struggling in the jungle of finances.

Students are in debt before they even start learning

D epending who you ask, people will give you a different opinion on the state of student finances in the UK. Most students can qualify for a loan from the government; the amount you receive is reflective of your parent’s income, which means the amount people get often varies.

However, although the initiative seems like a reasonable one, it inevitably leads to people considering the system unfair as it varies from person to person. Some people are able to pay rent, buy food and go out with their money, whereas others can’t. They often have to work alongside their studies although their parents earn above the governments quota. This may be by only a few pounds, meaning that they can’t afford to fund their kids for the 3 to 4 years they are at University despite what the government perceives.

"Many students leave in nearly 40.000 pounds worth of debt"In the past year the format has changed. Before, students could also apply for non repayable grant of a few thousand pounds, but this has been scrapped and replaced by the option for bigger loans. Meaning that students now have to get in more debt before they even start learning anything.

This combined with the 9000 pound tuitions fee English students pay, mean now that many students leave university in nearly 40.000 pounds worth of debt.

Overall, it’s fair to say that the financial situation for students in England is flawed and needs a reformation. However, with the current government in power who raised both the tuition fees to 9000, as well as scrapping the grant system all in less than ten years of power, this doesn’t seem likely to happen in the near future.

William Macmaster (21)

Southampton, England

Diana Kohler (21)

Vienna, Austria

The main universities of Vienna are free of charge

S tudent life in Austria has a lot of advantages, compared to other countries. Rents are cheap, for example, I pay only 340 Euros for a month. But still this price is too much. The Austrian association of students, where every student is a member, provides free help and counselling in case of too high rents. Normally the price gets adjusted. Also in other fields the student association fights for the rights of students.

The main Universities of Vienna and other big cities are free of charge, with a broad variety of fields of study. The downside of this freedom is, that the lectures are often overcrowded. A lot of my friends have to sit on the stairs sometimes. But this is partly the case because of under funding by the government, which just some years ago cut down the funds for the field “research and education”.

"Working parttime is inevitable for many" When it comes to food, I normally don’t eat out. Supermarkets are relatively cheap. Also at fast-food stands you can get a Kebab or Falafel Sandwich for around three to four Euros.

In Austria it is quite common, that students get financial help from their parents. Still, working parttime is inevitable for many. There are no special loans for students. But every student gets a monthly amount until they are 24. Depending on their parent’s financial situation.

Good grades means a free study in Ukraine

I n Ukraine there are basically, two types of higher education: paid and free. If a student wants to study for free, he or she must have good grades in a school and successfully pass the final exams.

In Ukraine, approximately 50 percent of students study at the so called budgetary form. It means that a government allocates certain amount of places on BA, MA and PhD programs for students, who have passed entrance exams with the best grades, or for those who have some special social status.

During my studies in the universities, I have experienced two types of Ukrainian higher education: paid and free. When I first entered a university I had to pay for my studies. Of course, my parents helped me a lot. I studied international law, which has a limited number of free of charge places for prospective students. Unfortunately, I did not qualify for one of these places.

"I do not have to pay for my studies - our government pays for them" Then, in 2015, I applied for a Master degree in journalism. I passed my entrance exams. Now, I do not have to pay for my studies - our government pays for them.

Besides this, students, who do not pay for their studies, have another benefit: they are eligible for a scholarship. It is paid every month.

Additioinally, there are benefits for all students, like 50 percent discount in public transport. This differs per city. For example, in Lviv, where I spend my first 4 years of higher education, students pay 50 percent of ticket prizes. In Kyiv, the system is a little bit different: students pay for a monthly ticket.

Oleksandr Yaroshchuk (23)

Kyiv, Ukraine

Moa Strand (25)

Gothenburg, Sweden

The major issue in Sweden is accomodation

S weden differs from many countries in the sense that everybody who finishes primary and secondary school has the right to go to college free of cost, and get student loans for basic needs and accomodation. We are therefor not to the same extent dependent on our parents financing.

The financial part when it comes to studies for students in Sweden is thus not the big problem. The major issue for students in Sweden, is accomodation.

"You have to stand in line for about 10 years to get a apartment" If you’re from the countryside like me, it is common to choose to study in a larger city. And for those who don’t have parents who provide an apartment for them, must be expected to stand in line for about 10 years to get a rental one. If you’re from a large city your parents mostly attend that line when their children are small, alternatively to live at home until the studies are completed.

If you can’t do that, you instead have to rely on more uncertain and expensive sublets. And you have to count on having to move a couple of times during the studies. If you are lucky, you can get a student apartment for a couple of years, that you must leave when the studies are completed, and then you’re back in the same housing crisis again.

I believe I am very much a representative student. I moved from the countryside to a larger city, take full student loans and grants and currently live with a friend in a sublet.

No proper student jobs excists in Albania

I started working as a freelance journalist when I saw that topics I am most interested in are not well covered. Due to my Albanian background and my interest in the Balkans I started to work for Albanian media. Something I’m now working in fulltime.

This gave me a nice opportunity to use the money I earned on travelling the Balkans extensively and made it able to pay my bills myself. This financial independence is one of the best things I have learned from my work, apart from the professional context.

"The social capita you can gain is more important" Additionally it gave me access to a lot of arena's in which normal students would not have access to. This not only did me bring interesting contacts, but also some great friends. For me, the social capita you can gain, is more important than all other perks you can win from your work. I would advise all students to try to work in a sector they like and gain as much as experience as possible.

Being bicultural, Dutch and Albanian, gives me an advantage in relation to other Albanian students, for which no proper student jobs exists, let alone working fulltime during your studies. Youth unemployment remains a big issue in Albania, but finding a job while you’re a student is maybe even harder in this country.

Vincent Triest

Tirana, Albania

Chaitra Acharya (26)

Manipal, India

Higher education comes with a price tag in India

I n India education loan is becoming popular day by day because of rising fee structure of higher education. It came into existence in 1995 started by SBI Bank and after that many banks started offering student loan. But you need to have a score of over 55 percent not only to get into university, but also to get an education loan by a bank.

Education in India is provided by the public sector as well as the private sector. The funding comes from three levels: central, state, and local. Higher education comes with a price tag, so I had to take an education loan from the bank. It’s often impossible to repay this.

This can be done once the student completed his or her study and has a secure job. It is a problem faced by many people and puts an end to the educational endeavor of a student. Many scholarship exams are conducted to help needy and deserving students out of their financial crisis.

"Each successful student receives between 250 and 850 euro" For my fourth semester my college selected me to the Erasmus Mundus Scholarships program. This offers grants to students from program and partner countries who wish to pursue Bachelor, Master or PhD studies. Each successful student receives a monthly grant between 250 and 850 euro.

At this moment I’m doing my masters degree in Norway. It is one of the few remaining countries in the world where tuition fee is free for everyone, including international students. The Norwegian government also offers scholarship programs to cover living costs in Norway. As an Erasmus student you are exempted from paying fees for tuition, registration, examinations and access to laboratory and library facilities at the host institution.

Poor families don't have enough money to cover the tuition

L ithuania has a higher education system of two types: public and private universities or colleges. Public universities and colleges are much more popular because they have a system of paid and free education.

If you're a good student at school, mostly you won't have to pay for your studies. There are also colleges with lower bar where you can study for free. A bigger problem is when you have to move out from your parents' home and pay for a rent, food, clothes, books etc.

Lithuanian students get discounts for public transport and cultural events but it's not enough to live a normal life. Most of my peers start to work a part time job but, obviously, it's not the best decision when you have to sacrifise your studytime. There are also different types of scholarships which should help students with their finances - but these are too small to live off.

"It's not very common to take a loan for childrens education" Many Lithuanians have to fix their plans because their families don’t have enough money to cover their tuition fee. It's still not very common to take a loan for childrens education.

But I'm lucky because my parents live in Vilnius, so I don't have to think about living costs. At the moment, I'm finally studying a master in journalism, for free. I also have a part time job which covers my everyday needs.

Joginte Uzusienyte (24)

Vilnius, Lithuania

Nina Bogosavac (21)

Utrecht, Netherlands

When going to school becomes something of the elite

I have several family members who studied until they were 28, with ease. After that they would find a job, settle down and looked back at their student life with nothing but nostalgia and sentimental feelings of too many cans of beer brotherly enjoyed with roommates.

How different with the current study situation, after years of governmental cut backs. Did the amount of money we once received for free to study diminished, right now this is fully replaced with a student loan and other budgetary measures.

"The only financial benefit we all enjoy, is a free public transport card" Although the income of your parents still means that you can get an extra on top of that, our once successful European system of protecting the weak and providing support for everyone, turns slowly into a more American model with similar amounts of debt when graduated. The only financial benefit we all enjoy, is a free public transport card.

The result of all this that students undertake less extracurricular activities, or at least think twice about them. For me this meant that I had to rely on the student loan big time, as well as a load of my friends. I’m sort of okay with that. However, there’s a big distinction between me and people who claim that it’s absolute horror. These friends tend to work really hard to pay for their costs, or stay at their parents’ place until they have a steady job.

I chose to live freely, but relatively poor and – it’s not all black – with the luxury of a really good social housing program. I comfort myself with the thought that at least until the age of 28, I can live on ease. After that, I’ll start paying off and perhaps rethink my current conclusions.

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