Student finances

So how can you make your money go further and avoid piling up too much debt? It’s something that can seem difficult, but with a little bit of planning and organisation you can easily manage your money, ensure bills are paid on time and know how much you have to spend on enjoying yourself.

First, take a positive step towards managing your money and work out a budget.

Make a list of your monthly outgoings and the costs, such as: These fall into the following categories:

  • Essentials: accommodation, transport, additional learning materials, food.
  • Household bills: gas, electricity, telephone/mobile, council tax, water.
  • Living costs: clothes, toiletries and cosmetics, going out, gifts.

Make a list of your monthly incomes, for example: Student grants, loans, additional allowances and any other regular income such as a job or parental contributions.

If incomes are per term or annual, divide them up into monthly sums to make things easier.

See how the two compare. If you consistently have higher outgoings than income, then you will be building up debt which needs to be managed. If you have money left over, think about how you can make that money work for you.

Set yourself a weekly or monthly budget and stick to it. Keep a written record of your expenditure to check your budget works.

Here are some ideas to keep your debts in check:

Reconsider your budget and see if you can make some cut backs – but keep it realistic so that debts can be controlled and kept to a minimum:

  • Get advice from your bank or student loans office.
  • Look into the best deals for low interest over-drafts or loans.
  • Find a part-time job that won’t interfere with your studies – the student union, newspapers and local shops will have jobs advertised.
  • Get a job in the holiday. You might be able to get valuable work experience as well as clearing your debts.
  • Look into possible sponsorship or bursarie.
  • If you are seriously worried about money, you could think about taking a year out and finding a job to help fund your course.
  • Get advice from friends, family or people you trust, and use contacts in the ‘Who can help?’ section below for information and to keep any worries at bay.

General cost-cutting:

  • Share costs where you can, for example taxis or food – it’s cheaper and more fun to cook for two or three people than for one.
  • Shop around for Gas and Electricity rates – it can be cheaper if you have both with the same company.
  • Sell any books you no longer need to the following year students.
  • Seek out cheap student nights and special offers. Make the most of your NUS discounts.

General financial admin tips:

  • Open a bank account.
  • Get insurance for your belongings and property.
  • Set up a file for other important documents including bank statements, student loan and grant communications, insurance details, household bills, employment and tax details.

You might also want to take a look at the Student Moneynet site, (see ‘Who can help?’ section below), which has been developed for students and their parents or carers to provide free, impartial advice on financing further education studies. There’s lots of information on student life, including information on Government loans and sponsorships.

Extra help for learners

If you are aged 21 or under and are unable to live with your parents or carers, you could be entitled to financial support if you’re in full time education or are about to start.

This extra help is in addition to the EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance).

To find out if you’re entitled to the extra support, visit your local Jobcentre Plus or Connexions Adviser. See the ‘Who Can Help?’ section for contact details.

Who can help?

The Student Loans Company website gives you easy access to key information about student loans. Visit their website at www.slc.co.uk

The Money to Learn website provides information on student support at http://moneytolearn.direct.gov.uk/

Find out about the financial help that’s available to young people in education and training and make sure you’re claiming everything you’re entitled to by visiting Directgov – Financial Help for Young People.

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