Thursday, 10 September 2009

student finance FAIL.

I'm so fucking angry I can barely type.

I applied for funding from student finance on April 2nd, so desperate was I to make sure that I wouldn't end up in the situation I'm in now. However, when my mum's boyfriend moved out on May 26th, it drastically changed the situation I was in financially - it meant that I am now Properly Low Income (fer reals). In spite of the crazy crazy turmoil of that whole kettle of shite, I was literally on the phone to student finance by May 27th, sat outside the door of an A-level revision class, in the hallway, knees to my chest, to make sure I wouldn't end up in the situation I'm in now.

They seem to have lost or misplaced or fucking BURNED about half the information I sent them. When I spoke to an advisor on the phone today, she said they haven't yet received any proof that my mother and I are a single-parent family, when she sent it in JUNE. They're still listing her ex-boyfriend as one of my sponsors! Every time, in the past, that I've phoned them up to deal with this, I've been told that it was fine and sorted and really just a glitch, but no, it appears they actually really have lost a whole bunch of my details. Nice.

The important thing to understand is just how hard it is to get hold of student finance. They've inexplicably 'locked' my account, meaning I can't access any of my information online, and have to spend forty-five minutes or so listening to hold music every time I want a little reassurance. Not that you get it. I have been endlessly fobbed off and lied to and passed over, all because the people on the other end of the phone are too overworked or too fucking lazy to really check anything, until I reached the girl I spoke to today.

But then, why should I believe her over everyone else? Maybe everything's actually fine and she's the one who's incompetent - I wouldn't know. They're just voices on the other end of the phone to me.

Earlier this week, I spent about three days trying to get through to them and finally spoke to Lady One on Tuesday. Lady One told me that:
- they'd registered Liverpool as my new uni just fine
- I was showing up as eligible for the full grant
- all my information had been received a-okay
-I would receive a letter in the post over the next few days, confirming this.

Well, I got the letter this morning. It said nothing whatsoever about a maintenance grant, it said I would only be getting loans - a tuition loan and a standard loan - and that I was apparently going to my old university. In despair, I spent another cheerful half hour holding, listening to some fuckwit computer tell me that "it would be easier to go online at www..." which, no, it fucking wouldn't, because you WON'T LET ME LOG IN. Anyway. Eventually, I was told that:
- actually they know nothing about my new uni. Lady One told me it was fine for literally no visible reason and I need to send in a massive form AGAIN
- they know nothing about what the hell kind of grant I'm eligible for
- they're still listing my ex-stepfather - who left, I repeat, in FUCKING MAY - as one of my sponsors
- even though we sent the forms in months ago
- this deserves several bullet points because it is so fucking stupid
- they haven't received half the information I was told had arrived.

At my wits' end, frankly. She took my contact number and has told me somebody from the "processing department" will call me in a couple of days to confirm what is or isn't missing. I'm not holding out much hope that this will really happen.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms.

I spent the tail-end of the bank holiday weekend circling things in red pen and writing down masses of phone numbers and so on, keying myself up for all the ringing around I was going to do on Tuesday morning, in an attempt to sort out some goddamn private accommodation already, goddamn it. Luckily, I decided to check my emails on Tuesday morning before I launched, head-first, into the cut and thrust of the thing. This is what I found there:
"Dear [lozopus]

Re: Room Offer

We are pleased to offer you a room in University Halls of Residence at Liverpool.  For security reasons we are not able to give you details about the offer in this email. To view and respond to the offer please login to the University Student Portal..."

Oh dear, I thought, how terrifying. I'd already made up my mind to turn it down if it was another catered offer, not reapply through the university and utilise all the scouting around I'd done over the weekend. Luckily, I didn't have to bother - in just over two weeks I shall be moving into some self-catered, uni-owned halls which are, to boot, the ones I wanted all along; the ones that are close to campus and right in the heart of the city.

Frankly, I'm so excited now that it's unreal. In all my life, I've never lived in a city, only in (fairly horrible) towns - I know that seems a silly thing to matter to a person, but the thought of not having to get on a fucking train to see good comedy or music or theatre is just a little overwhelming. I'd been reluctant but resigned to spending my first year of city-life two miles out of the bustle, a bus ride away from everything, but now I am within actual walking distance of everything cool - within WALKING DISTANCE. Bearing in mind that I am willing to walk quite a long way for things and not, er, expecting it to be ten minutes across either way or something.

I saw a group of friends during the week who asked if the accommodation thing had sorted itself out; I replied in the affirmative and received a very lovely cheer in the middle of the street. What a good bunch. Then we went to the London Tombs and nearly had a coronary, which would have been a shame, after all that fuss.

On a semi-related note, my dad visited Liverpool this week - he had booked his train tickets back before we knew I'd missed my grades for my first choice uni, so it was just a coincidence really - and spent a happy day wandering about on his own, geeking out. My dad's a huge Beatles fan, and his obsession made a weekend in Liverpool one of the first holidays I ever had, certainly the first I can really remember, when I was eight or nine years old. The entire reason I chose to apply to Liverpool was that I'd fallen in love with the city during visits past, so him calling me up to go, "er, is it John Moores you're going to?" (no) had a pleasantly cyclical feel to it. He made me love the city, and now I am going to live there, and the fact his only child is going to live there has, I suppose, made him look at the place in a different way.

He found my future campus (verdict: "massive") and took a photo of the map they supplied, which he sent me in a text. A rather touching gesture, all told, particularly in light of the fact that I had been not a little concerned in the past about how he viewed my going away; he's made no secret of being happy that I didn't get into my first choice, though - further away geographically and with a year in a different country - so I suppose it's really all worked out for the best in that regard.

Oh, look at that. It just turned midnight. Exactly two weeks to go, now.

For all the time, all the years I've spent looking forward to this and preparing, it really has rather snuck up on me. But these things have a way of doing that, don't they?