“I feel like i’m going backwards”: new uk graduates hit by cost of living crisis | cost of living crisis in the u.k

Rising energy bills, soaring food prices and a looming recession: the "class of 2022" has graduated into the worst living crisis in decades.

Not that it has long been made easy for young adults. Shreya nanda, an economist at the institute for public policy research's center for economic justice, says they "have been facing their own crisis for many years – in terms of stagnant wages, rising rents, high marginal tax rates faced by young people and their state spending cut".

University graduation ceremonies have been taking place all over the UK in recent weeks, with some scheduled for this month or later in the year.

With shifting student loan repayment thresholds, job insecurity and rising rents, those who have graduated and celebrated their successes with family and friends now face difficult choices.

Hannah Muenden

"I don't really want to live with my parents," she says. "I enjoyed the freedom of university and want that independence when I move out too. But I also struggle with the difference between wanting freedom, wanting to move out, and rising prices."

The rental market in london is competitive – it's "over £800 for a good apartment," she says, "with bills on top".

Munden is particularly concerned about the rise in utility costs, "I feel like it's more money I can't spend than someone who just got their first full-time job and is getting by."

Then there are the interest rates for student loan repayment.

"I know I'm only 22, but it worries me about future generations and even people like my kids – if they want to go to university, even though there are alternatives, they'll do it with rising costs?"

Deyna grimshaw, 21

Grimshaw, a final year english literature student at the university of birmingham, should also return home after university.

She says she's not sure what to do next, but is hesitant to pursue a master's degree. "Full-time education is not something I want to continue," she says, citing the cost and stress. "I'm applying for jobs in my hometown at the moment – any industry that interests me even a little bit – to make sure I have something to do over the summer."

Rental costs are top of mind for grimshaw. "I would definitely say that the cost of living crisis has made me stay home longer," she says. "As much as I would like to move out and live with friends, I don't know how I could justify it, 1.000 pounds a month to pay, especially since I probably won't be very well paid work."

Deyna Grimshaw

As food prices have skyrocketed in the UK, she says, "I've found I'm spending a lot more on food than I was a few months ago, even though I'm buying the same things or less.

"To be honest, I don't think the university experience I've had is worth the debt I've accumulated."

She has almost 30.Accumulated £000 in "debt" for maintenance loans, which, combined with the course fees, means she owes about 60.£000 owed. She worries about whether the debt will "pay off" in terms of her job.

Aravindh suresh, 21

After applying to numerous companies before landing a summer internship last year, suresh, a final-year economics student at the london school of economics and political science, is starting a graduate job at a company in the finance industry.

After graduation, suresh intends to live in central london. "When looking for new rental properties, we had to consider the potential extra costs," he says. Suresh and his roommates struggled to find anything for less than 900 pounds per person per month.

Aravindh Suresh

"I'm lucky that my graduate job pays well," says suresh, who will work as an analyst. "While the cost of living crisis will definitely reduce my disposable income after expenses, I probably won't be in a position where I'm struggling to pay the bills every month."

Suresh says, however, that rising interest rates on his student loans are a cause for concern, so he is eager to pay off his debt as soon as possible. "It will probably mean I have to delay my ambitions to get on the housing ladder a bit, as I won't be trying to save up for my housing deposit until I've paid off most of my student debt."

While suresh is excited about his university experience, he says, "several financial companies have started offering internships where I could have worked and learned at the same time.

"If these options had offered so many opportunities when I applied to university, I could have chosen this option instead.

"I would have had much less debt and probably would have achieved the same career path I have now, albeit over a longer period of time."

What the experts say?

Tom allingham, editorial director of the save the student website, advises looking at the best bank accounts for college graduates. With a graduate account, you can extend your interest-free overdraft beyond your studies and get out of debt for a few more years without paying fees. "It's best to switch while you're studying, as some accounts won't allow you to do so if you've already graduated," says allingham.

We urge graduates not to panic about the amount of their student loan debt

"We would also urge graduates not to panic about the amount of student loan debt they owe."

This is echoed by ben waltmann of the institute for fiscal studies, who says, "the recent changes to the student loan [act] as a tax increase. Under the current student loan system in england, remaining loan balances are wiped out 30 years after students first become eligible for repayment."

He says, "while the student loan balance doesn't matter for most graduates in the current system, what really matters is how much graduates have to pay back each year."