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I Just Want To Spend It On Shoes! A Student Finance Odyssey

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By Frankie Richardson

I am utterly exhausted. I’ve just realised I spent the last ten minutes staring at a pink plastic bowl which, until very recently, contained Barbecue Beef Super Noodles. I need to produce 750 words tonight but all I want to do is go to bed, where I’ll toss and turn and fret over the letter from The Boy’s nursery. I had opened it as I walked in the door, and it had threatened me with court action unless I repay some astronomical figure they have seemingly just plucked out of thin air. I got home too late to call the student loans company again, but I think the chances of them finding my elusive, disappearing decree absolute, or even admitting that they lost it in the first place, are slimmer than the pickings in my fridge.

“You need to provide us with evidence of your marital status, Miss Richardson.”

I want to scream.

“You’ve already got it you useless, pointless, petty little human!” Or even better, “Come spend a night in my house with no heating or food and then decide if I qualify for student finance you smug, warm, well fed git.”

But, I feel, on balance and with careful consideration, that probably wouldn’t be particularly helpful. Neither, come to think of it, would pointing out that producing a decree absolute proves that my marriage ended two years ago but it doesn’t mean for a second that I haven’t moved in with a new partner. Maybe the idea of brazen, little, unmarried mothers like me going into higher education baffles the good people at Student Finance England to such a degree that they genuinely haven’t been able to dream up a scenario so working class and seedy.

Unfortunately for me, my life is not that scandalous. I really am single and I really do qualify to be allowed to get myself in a revolting amount of debt to the state. But the rules dictate that an application process I began six months ago will meander on at it’s own sweet pace as I endure bailiffs and cold nights and empty cupboards. The Boy will keep getting up at 5.30 am, shipped off to babysitters, leaving in the dark, getting home in the dark, living in the dark if the electricity doesn’t get paid for.

Until, of course, we reach the inevitable conclusion. They give me the money. And I spend it on shoes.

Frankie Richardson is in her first year studying a History and Sociology combined Honours Degree at Manchester Metropolitan University.

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