Part-Time Student with no Job? Sorry. No Help For You Here.

I: the allowance didn’t stretch that far, but it was enough to get on by. (source: Facebook / Kayla Davidson)

I knew I couldn’t get sleep for some reason. So much so that I just couldn’t get those eyes to shut. Staring through the windows, pitch-black or dimmed whenever a car drove past the spare bedroom of Nan’s house. Getting away from Porirua for a week was the goal and I did think about coming up this way to Levin before flying over to Brisbane in December — but something made its way to me that I both expected, but feared.

StudyLink, aka Student-monez Bureaucrat-central, had sent around three letters emphasizing the point that I was no longer eligible for either the Student Allowance because I fell into the ‘part-time student’ brand. Now, considering the fact that I knew this was the most likely outcome — I didn’t sweat it that much at first. When I first thought of this possibility, I had thought of the future ahead and looked forward to the experience of not just finding a job, but working one. The small pieces of childhood makes me remember when I did do a paper run as a school kid, with a trolley that was just about to break (and did, flimsy thing), but had the help of the household to fold the papers and at times having them help me put them in mailboxes — up and down streets.

Recently, I had been more excited than ever to apply for one job that the local library in Invercargill was running last year, for someone who was suave at Social Media and could use the Adobe Creative Suite for most of the work required — which had me written all over it. Alas, full-time work and full-time study doesn’t work, right? Even after that job went by, there was an everlasting thought that there’d be something else for me to do as a job. Even if it was something that required training — I’m up for pretty much anything; just not a job handling food (wanting to lose weight this year…).

So. Part-time study. Studylink telling me that the Allowance wasn’t an option. You might be wondering, three e-mail messages just to tell that? Well, not exactly. One was just referring to the Allowance. The other two concerned the Student Loan. The portion that my institute wanted for this years “Direct Material Costs” was approved. Great. The final message said that due to the nature of my study: surely enough, I wasn’t eligible for Course-related costs or even living loan costs. By this point — this had me worried. So much so, that I’m sure I must have looked more than just visibly distraught. I’m usually on the top of things. Even if there’s a need to urgently study (ie: crash coursing), I’m up on my feet, running again sooner rather than later. To inform you, the reader, this wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t fail one paper, needed to move to the next year of research, back in 2015. I would have graduated last year.

II: studylink had hardly any waiting times early in the morning. meanwhile, MSD had > 10 minute waiting times and aged kiwi music. (source: Ministry of Social Development)

A phone call to StudyLink (after one failed attempt to MSD), to see what help I could get whilst trying to find a job when I returned to Invercargill (as a student on Jobseeker Support, I’m currently in this process already — but it will end before study starts, with no calls back at this stage). First call rep confirmed the details and said that it’d be possible to apply for the Accommodation Supplement. So begins the journey of going through the eligibility test and by the looks of it, it was the only form of support that I was able to apply for. I couldn’t believe it. This was it? The only thing I could get is something that will ultimately cover my rent and the cost of power? Well, you’d may as well nail the idea of trying to get by day-to-day and afford the cost of food right to a coffin.

This is something that I don’t really understand. If one can’t get the allowance from StudyLink because they’re not a full-time student — then they’d go to MSD to check other alternative options. MSD say nope! You’re studying and are thus not available for full-time work (which is, quite respectively, their requirement of their clients). But I really don’t get it. If the purpose of the Accommodation Supplement is to just cover the cost of having a roof over your head, then how will the cost of basic well-being be met? Because to me, according to the eligibility of MSD/StudyLink, they won’t meet it. If you’re a student like me, monetarily poor from square one, and find yourself in this hole — then it’s difficult to just try and dig yourself out of it. Not just that, but I imagine the other tertiary students who might find themselves in the same situation, where they don’t want to get support from other family members who might be working because they don’t want for them to face further financial burden. This point is just further amplified if you, as a student, decided to move to a vastly different area of the country to study, rather than just staying at home and attend the local polytech/university. We, as a society where we believe that further education makes our citizens more productive in the workforce and better for the country as a whole, should be valuing students a whole lot more than this.

All in all, this is just another chapter of life — where a struggle reaches the surface. How might I survive? Will probably only be reflected in future blog posts — right here, if there’s any.

If you’re looking for a whiz-kid who knows his way around Social Media Networking, has proficient skills in using the Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Illustrator, Indesign, After Effects & Lightroom) and knows his way around Pro Tools and Camera Operation — gimme a call, because I’m your top man for the job.