Written by Beth Huthart
It’s no secret that University is expensive; it’s one of the main things that worries people when they’re considering applying but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself whilst you’re there. There are ways to aid the financial burden and ensure that your time at University isn’t spent worrying about how you’re going to afford to live.
The first and most important thing to do is apply for student finance! These loans help pay you tuition fees and pay any other fees you pay encounter including rent if you choose to move out of your parents home, groceries and the emergency garlic bread’s you order to get you through those long nights in the library when your deadlines are looming.
When applying for student finance make sure you enter the correct information and apply for EVERYTHING you are eligible for and if your parents are supporting your application make sure you send any paper work that is needed as soon as possible. There is nothing worse than not getting your student loan in on time, if you do start University and you still don’t have your first instalment don’t panic! Contact student finance first and find out why you haven’t been given your money then get in touch with your University, they normally have short-term loans to help out with these types of emergencies especially if you have to pay rent.
On the topic of rent, make a note of when it is due; you don’t want to pay late! If you’re living in University accommodation or private accommodation specifically for students they should have their payment dates scheduled to be around the same time as student finance. This might not be the case if you choose to rent from a landlord. Make sure you are aware of what is included in that rent, some landlords will include all of your bills in your rent and this is normally the case with University accommodation and private student specific accommodation but others won’t do this.
Before you start University, you will want to make sure you have a student bank account. Most student bank accounts will give you a 0% overdraft, this basically means you get a set limit overdraft and they won’t charge you for using it. This is perfect if your student loan just about covers your rent payments or you get a bit click happy when shopping online.
Another advantage of student bank accounts is that you sometimes get incentives for signing up, these can include rail cards, NUS cards, Amazon prime memberships etc. but don’t just go with a bank for the incentive make sure it’s the best fit for you and your needs.
A great advantage of University, besides the degree and the experiences, is student discounts! Most places/services will offer some form of student discount however a way of unlocking even more of these discounts is by purchasing a NUS card. These cards are £12 for 1 year and gives you access to hundreds of discounts both online and in store so in the end it pays for itself, a full list of discounts can be found on the NUS website. You can either have your card delivered directly to your student union at University or to another address of your choice.
If you chose to move away from home and plan on travelling by train to go back and visit it is worth purchasing a 16-25 railcard. This gives you a 1/3 off rail fares and access to some other discounts for hotels and trips. (If you have an NUS card you can get further discounts with certain train operators so look out for those!). Railcards are £30 for one year or £70 for three years, the prices seem high at first but remember all of the savings!!
The most important thing is to budget. This doesn’t mean writing down how much you spend every time you spend money but just make sure you know how much you’re working with. When you get your student finance work out how much of that is going to rent and how much you’re left with. Look out for offers in supermarkets when you do your shopping and sign up for point schemes such as Tesco Clubcards and Nectar cards, they won’t be immediate money savers but they do occasionally email you with discount vouchers for things you purchase regularly which come in handy and also sometimes offer discounted deliveries.
Finally, don’t let money worries stop you enjoying your University experience if you’re really struggling with money then it may be time to consider getting a part time job BUT it is also important to remember why you’re at University in the first place so make sure you’re able to do all of your assignment work and do your job without one interfering with the other. If you’re struggling to make ends meet and it’s making you consider dropping out of University all together then speak to your University! Most (if not all) will offer some form of loan to ensure you can stay and finish your course, these will differ between Universities so make sure you talk through all of the options available to you.