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Anyone know about financial help for students with MS??

Hi,

Just wondering if anyone knows if there is any source of financial help for students with MS?

My daughter (diagnosed last year) is off to uni in September. She will get a maintenance grant but it doesn’t cover her rent, let alone living costs, books, travel, etc. (I had no idea this was the case - I thought the student loan would cover everything. With an expected £45k debt when she leaves uni, it seems crazy that we have to pay out a lot more besides!!)

Of cours, students are expected to get part time work to cover this - but this will be impossible for my daughter. Her only symptom currently is fatigue - but it is so debilitating that there’s no way she could work in a bar or anywhere else on top of her uni hours (which are full time - another shock to me! My niece is studying English and has just 8 hours of contact time a week. My daughter will have 40!)

Given all this, is there any source of funding that might help her out? I don’t suppose DLA would be the place to start? If anyone has any suggestions/ideas/info, I’d be very grateful!

Many thanks!

V

There is a disabled students allowance and the Uni itself may have additional grants or prizes that you can apply for. The Student Support Office (or whatever it’s called at her Uni) may know of things that she can apply for. Also worth googling “student prizes” to see what else you can find; all sorts of organisations offer prizes.

https://www.gov.uk/disabled-students-allowances-dsas/overview

DLA is a possibility if her walking and/or care needs are significant, although it has started to be replaced with PIP for new claimants now I think. If you are going to claim, make sure and get help from someone with experience.

https://www.gov.uk/dla-disability-living-allowance-benefit/overview

I would always advise people to make full use of the Student Loan scheme. The interest rates are low, you only have to pay a very small percentage of your loan back out of your monthly income once you’re working and only then when you earn a decent wage, and most students don’t ever pay it all back anyway! If I was going to Uni now, I would take out the maximum possible or as much as I need, whichever is the greater.

There will be someone in her department who works with the Student Support Office. Maybe get in touch before she starts so that her needs can be flagged up early on?

Karen x

Hi Vicky, Karen has given you great advice and I don’t know anything about help for students with MS, so I can’t add anything to that. However, I wondered how she was doing? Has the CBT helped her at all in getting her head around her diagnosis? Is she coping better? I am also about to lose my eldest son to uni in September and am dreading it as he is such a darling! Therefore, I can understand a little of what you must be feeling about it. Your daughter is showing a lot of courage and determination to carry on her life as normal - you must be really proud of her! Teresa xx

Hi Karen,

That is brilliant advice - thank you! Now I know where to start looking. To be honest, I’m not exactly hopeful - I don’t think anyone will see her as eligible, as she “only” has fatigue - but I will give it a good shot and see what happens.

The maximum student loan that she can get is about £30 short each week of her rent - I’d had no idea. I sort of assumed that students plucked a sum out of the air and requested that amount as a loan! Ha ha - what an idiot! I am trying to think of it as a graduate tax rather than a student loan, so it won’t feel so painful to pay it back! I know in one sense it’s a good deal, and I see that the gov can’t afford to fund students the way they used to, specially with 50% of young pple being encouraged to go to uni - but it does sting a bit to think that my generation - and the generation of all the MPs! had grants. Ok, rant over! Thank you, Karen, for your help!

Hi Teresa,
Thank you for remembering my daughter. The CBT was a non-starter - they kept giving her appointments during school hours, and when she finally managed to get time off for the intial assessment, she absolutely hated it. She says it was because she didn’t like the therapist (no eye contact, and he smelt of smoke were her “reasons”) but I think she found it all too difficult to have to talk about something she just wants to forget about. So it’s on hold for now. I think she’s dealing with it by burying herself in work.

She had such an early diagnosis, but we are hoping that she won’t actually have any other symptoms for years. So many people on this list seem to be diagnosed at a much older age, and then look back and see that they actually had lots of symptoms but didn’t put it all together. I hope she’s going to be the opposite! In fact I’m hoping that the cure will have arrived before she gets any other symptoms… fingers crossed!

I have to be honest and say that I am DREADING her going off to uni. I try to be all mature and say “Well, it’s what we raise our children for” but I find it agony to think of her leaving!! She is such a lovely girl to have around - I just love her company. I’m stocking up on tissues already!

V

x

I am the same about my son Vicky - I’ve been dreading it since he was about 8 years old and now it’s only a matter of months! What a twit I am! I will still have three others at home but he is the calm one, the peacemaker who always helps without being asked! You’re being very brave too as we all worry so much about our children but your worries about your daughter are twofold atm but I think it is the right thing to do. She needs to get on with her life and feel ‘normal’. She will cope - it’s just a question of adapting her life to assimilate this illness into it. Hopefully, her MS will progress slowly and as long as she has plenty of rest - she should do really well! Keep us posted as to how she gets on! Teresa xx

Hi Vicky,

I too have no advice about extra help but wanted to chip in about the debt. Im almost 30k in debt from my student loans. i finished uni a couple of years ago but did 4 years so it still cost alot. I nearly reconsidered going as i was a mum and worried about the debt. But how i justified it then and now is: id worked for 14 years in a low paid retail job hating it. i couldnt get even an unqualified job out of retail. my degree got me out of that job.

currently because (im a registered biomedical scientist scientist) the NHS has been making lots of cut backs no labs have been recruiting. But i did get a lower banded job in the hospital histology lab, so getting me experience to go with qualification. Im not earning enough to pay any loan back so have forgot about it. then if i do get a bms job ill be getting double the pay and only need to pay back 9% of earnings over 15k (think this is higher now) so will still be massively better off. i love my job and even though im not fully there yet, ive no doubt id have not got it without my degree as there are so many people over qualified now.

your daughter is giving herself a massive chance at happiness in work. dont worry about the debt i just consider it another bill. I think now that we have to work till 67 im thinking uni for my kids is an extension of their childhood, they have enough years at work to come. while uni is hard no doubt about it, its doing a subject she chose so will find it far more enjoyable than school. as far as ms is concerened i had a couple of friends with a disability ie deaf and one with limited vision, both had really good support from uni, extra time for exams and work, and personal note takers. So have your daughter ask the uni for support it’ll make a big difference.

kel

x

Hi Kel,

What an impressive role model for your children, going off to uni as a single mother, and improving your life by doing something you’re passionate about! And you’re right, the debt has to be thought of as just another bill, and something students will come to see as just another part of the process of their education.

I tried ringing and ringing my daughter’s uni yesterday, but there was no one there! I’m sure they can’t have broken up for the summer yet (!!!) so I will try again today.

Thank you!

V