Today I'm in a grump! I shouldn't be, my youngest daughter is home from Paris. I haven't seen her since Christmas. I wanted to go to the airport to collect her but instead I had to go to the Credit Union with Daughter No. 2 to collect her student loan. It's a joint loan. What as misnomer as I will be the one paying it back.
In Ireland there is no student loan system as there is in England where repayments are frozen until the student is working and earning above a certain income.
If you borrow for college here you must repay the money immediately. How? Get a job!
But in the present economic crisis there are very few jobs to be found. Even before the crisis there were very few jobs because all the "student" jobs were being taken by the eastern European nationals who flooded here when times were good. This also meant summer work was in short supply.
Add to that a heavy reading schedule for courses. If you are serious about getting good grades it doesn't leave much time for work.
This week, I sat down with Daughter No 2 and worked out basic living expenses, college registration - now a whopping €2000 per student- and decided we needed €20,000 to get the two girls through college this year. They have to live in Dublin for the year, where rent and food is even more expensive than the rest of the country.
We would apply for €8000 in her name and €12,000 in Daughter No.4's name. Her loan is far less as she has not had to pay fees.
In the past this amount would have not been necessary but due to the economic crisis our joint income has been reduced by €330 per week.This amount would pay their rent and most of their weekly expenses, leaving us to borrow only their registration fees.
They already have loans totalling just over €19,000 as this is their third year in college and as it is Daughter 2's second time around she has had to pay fees.
I rang to see if the loan had been approved. To our shock, she was only approved for half of the loan. Because of the credit crunch, the financial regulator has decreed that no-one can have loans for more than €25,000 regardless of their ability to repay them. As I'm the guarantor on both their loans we are only allowed to borrow €4,500, taking us up to the ceiling limit. This will pay their registration and nothing else. It is of no relevance that we are already paying in excess of what the monthly repayment would be on these loans.
The advice we were given is that my husband goes guarantor for Daughter No.4. We can then borrow the money that is necessary for her. It is an exercise in red tape, due to the financial regulator.
The banks loaned huge sums to "fat cats" The Fat Cats defaulted. The country is now bailing them out. The Wan****, sorry Bankers, are still driving around in their BMW's and living in their million pound houses. They continued to pay themselves huge bonuses. There have been no arrests, no prosecutions. We are left to worry if our daughters will be able to finish their university education before we are grey.
We can access loans this year but next year we will be reaching the credit limit set by the financial regulator. We have never defaulted on a loan , we generally pay them before their due date. We have never borrowed nor looked to borrow more than we could afford. We did everything right, From the time the children were born, we made provision. We had a college fees insurance policy, that ended up being a joke. World wide market slumps ensured that disappeared a long time ago. One year it would be the Asian markets, the next, the European markets. We'd have been better putting the money under the mattress. But next year we may not be able to get loans to see our daughters through their last year in college.
And in the meantime the government are increasing the registration fees, seriously talking about introducing course fees and as usual have put no infrastructure in place to enable the students to afford the escalating costs. The average family in Ireland have 2-3 children. How are they going to pay for their children to go to college?
Indeed. I don't often stick my head up over the parapet. I get on better and I'm happier living in my rut. But someone just took a bulldozer to my rut and has left me on a cold windy pinnacle. Today I'm grumpy, I might even go so far as to say I'm seriously angry!!