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banner Monday, 8 April, 2002, 10:39 GMT 11:39 UK
Clare Marie White, student
Clare Marie White, student

Clare Marie White is an undergraduate student in her final year at University College, London.

She pays 65 a week to live in halls of residence and she earns this through part time work.

But beyond that, Clare has to survive on her student loan and the inevitable bank overdraft.

By the time she finishes her degree later this year, she estimates she'll be 16,000 in debt.

My Budget verdict

posted by Clare | 1800 BST | Send your comments

I am pleased that the chancellor seems to be raising the income of many vulnerable low income groups, but furious that students and people under 25 have been exempted.

Students have nothing to fall back on from the government and it looks as if we will continue to rely on credit cards, overdrafts and temporary or part time work, which is not always very easy to find.

The government seems to think that everyone under the age of 25 can be supported by their parents, which is not always the case. We shouldn't be left out of the Chancellor's drive on poverty.

A rise in cigarette tax doesn't affect me, but it is bad news for many students during this stressful exam period. At least bar prices won't go up though!

I'm glad that workers are going to be encouraged into training as this is important for the economy and will help workers who need to keep up with changing job-markets.

It is also good that small businesses are to be helped, but there seemed to be no mention of big businesses, who could perhaps afford to pay more.

The environmental measures seem good and I am glad petrol prices have been frozen - they are high enough and people no longer trust the government to fund public transport with petrol taxes.

Overall I am no better or worse off by this budget.

I will be working in a few months and will be happy to pay higher national insurance for the NHS - although I hope the banks and student loans company take this into account when they demand their money back.

I hope the Education Spending Review will bring better news so that students can be guaranteed a decent level of income.

NHS funding

posted by Clare | 1630 BST | Send your comments

The rises in NHS spending sound very impressive and I hope it can be achieved.

Education cash
posted by Clare | 1623 BST | Send your comments

Education was never going to be a major priority in the Budget and although universities and colleges were mentioned in the Chancellor's speech, it is clear that most of the money is going to schools.

It is good that schools are being given money to spend on their own priorities although this doesn't necessarily address the general crisis in schools.

Student income
posted by Clare | 1608 BST | Send your comments

The Chancellor seems to be making sure that families, parents and pensioners have a minimum income but students are still being ignored.

We only have our loans of up to 4,500. That's 6,000 a year below the level that he said single adults should have.

Cash for small businesses
posted by Clare | 1557 BST | Send your comments

I like the idea of small businesses getting money to train workers.

The tax breaks for regeneration of deprived areas also sounds like a good idea. But he hasn't mentioned yet where he's going to get the money from to pay for this.

Budget predictions
posted by Clare | 1430 BST | Send your comments

From what I've heard I don't think there's going to be any more money for universities in the Budget.

I think Gordon Brown might chicken out of an income tax rise and I don't think taxes on petrol will go up either.

I do think National Insurance payments will go up to help pay for the NHS.

Your comments

Mr Brown will need to invest properly in education at all levels

Helen Clubb, UK
I am a second year student at Imperial College London. Gordon Brown wishes to raise standards in schools and is giving them more money to do so. However, standards will not be raised without high quality teaching, requiring high quality graduates. The UK's premier science and technology institute, Imperial College, is situated in the most expensive area of London. It is simply out of reach to some students due to the massively high living costs. Some students are forced to commute to college for up to one hour to find affordable accommodation, which makes it even harder to find the time for a part time job. If Mr Brown wants to improve education, he will need to invest properly in education at all levels, or he will find himself undermining his own policies.
Helen Clubb, UK

I'm an unemployed Open University student (mature). He's not made my life any easier. I will still have to claim an I.L.A. loan each year and at the end of my degree course I'll still have to pay ALL this money back; any money I have to spend ABOVE this loan comes out my JSA. Yes it will improve the NHS and yes the married couples, pensioners will also benefit, but with a total income of 52.00 per week. I will not benefit.
Sam Ingram, UK

As President of the Cambridge University Family Society I represent 400 student parents. We have been lobbying for better treatment for some time now, but the situation for many student parents is still dire. This Budget doesn't seem to do much to remedy that. Average family incomes are in the region of just 10,000 to 25,000 for this group of people, yet we are having to meet childcare costs of between 7,000 and 14,000 per annum per family "out of taxed income" in many cases, on top of regionally high housing costs. We hoped to see some recognition of what student parents in such situations are going through, but we are unfortunately disappointed.
Sandy Leaton Gray, England

Clare doesn't seem to realise that students working through their degrees are to some extent exempt from paying income tax, but must pay NI contributions. Therefore by raising NI contributions the Chancellor is making sure that students lose even more money each week.
Glenn Covacic, UK

I think 15,500 is a fair price for four years of quality education

G. Underwood, UK
I'm a final year student at Bristol University on a four-year course. When I leave I'll owe about 14000 to the Student Loans Company and will have a 1500 overdraft with my bank. But then, like most graduates, I will be in a position to apply for well paid jobs and, to be honest, I think 15,500 is a fair price for four years of quality education and all the beer you can drink.
G. Underwood, UK

As Clare's flatmate, I'm glad the BBC has sought her opinions! The Chancellor had little to say about students, which is disappointing, but more money for the NHS is good news, though I'm not convinced it will be sufficient. The money might also have come from top-level income or corporate taxes rather than general taxation. More important, however, if this money is to be well spent, is the question of whether or not the health service will remain in the public sector, as I feel it should, or if parts of it will be contracted out to the private sector.
Alex Higgins, England

Reform the student loan system
Lee Swan, Scotland

I agree with Clare, this government forgets about the national shortage of skilled personnel. My daughter is 23 years old in full time education - third year at Glasgow University. I get no help. I am an average paid public servant, and struggle with the ever rising cost of fees, accommodation, and general everyday needs like books, food and so on - no luxuries. What happened to the abolition of fees promised? Why do English students suffer when Scottish students get their fees paid by the state? University education is becoming out of reach for the majority of working class families. Only those on full state handouts or the well off can afford to send their children to university. Isn't it time that this government addressed the 18-25 year olds who are trying to graduate and alleviate the skills shortage, instead of giving state handouts elsewhere!
Angela Lamonte, England

Can you explain a bit about the effects this will have on recent graduates and their student loan repayments?

Surely it will just make things harder for students as they take money from you based on your salary before taxes - don't they? It's a different angle to look at anyway...
Kate, UK

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