Student payday loans are a necessary evil

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Credit: Kirsten Colligan

Jack Corban
Views Editor

Jack Corban argues in favour of student payday loans

Most of us as students, especially in first year, are out there trying to spread our newly found independent wings. For many, this is the first time we’re able to fully control how and when we spend our money. That’s all well and good, but a lot of us are doing that with the safety net of the bank of mum and dad. It might be that your parents help you out with money if and when they can; maybe you’re really lucky and they pay your rent, or perhaps they don’t really help often. Either way, many of us know that if things start to get really dire, they’ll be there to help you out.

For some, though, financial aid from their parents may be a distant dream, whether that’s due to their parents’ own financial difficulties or other family situations which simply result in them getting no help. That’s where these external payday loan companies catered towards students like Smart-Pig come into play. Yes, they’re exploitative – they exist purely to benefit off those who are struggling. But at the moment, they are nevertheless unfortunately necessary for many. Ideally, one day we will introduce something new to help students struggling financially, but for the time being, without these companies many students would see the end of their academic futures, or at least the end of a bearable university experience.

As your money comes to an end you’d first lose the more enjoyable parts of university; the social aspect would dwindle quickly because you wouldn’t be able to afford going out. That’d be an unpleasant experience but probably wouldn’t justify an external loan. But when you reach the point that you are struggling to buy essentials such as materials for your course, food and even rent, then it starts to make more sense. If you find yourself unable to pay your rent (as most student finance loans do not even cover rent in Glasgow) and you can’t rely on your parents or an overdraft extension, then you may genuinely find yourself with no other choice. No one should be judged for this.

Every situation is different and every person comes with their own set of problems: external (home life) and internal (mental and physical health) circumstances will ultimately factor into how much money they have. Our student loans are determined by our parents’ income, a system which takes nothing but figures into account, not the actual relationships between students and their parents. It’s quite common that your parents may be well off but have no intention of helping you at university for a variety of reasons.

That’s how I see these companies: they’re not for everyone but they work best as a case-by-case situation. It’s unfortunate that these companies try to exploit those who are desperate, but for some who are in a financially difficult position but have a good understanding of how these companies work, they can be a metaphorical lifesaver, or perhaps even a literal one in some of the particularly dire situations. The exploitative nature of these companies is something I will not argue with, but when you think about what it is like to be desperate, they make sense. If you were in that situation you might start to feel grateful that they exist, otherwise your bad situation could become a lot worse.