So the big question is where does the money for day to day life come from?
Like everyone else, students should not spend more than they earn, and knowing how much income you’ll have is essential. Once you get the information back from Student Finance England you should know exactly how much you’ll be getting each year, making it easier to plan your spending. Most of your income will come from one of five places:
- Maintenance loans are to help you pay for food, rent and other living costs.
They are paid into your student bank account in three installments – one at the start of each term and are repaid just like tuition fee loans.
The maximum amounts are:
- £10,702 for students living away from home inside London
- £8,200 for students living away from home outside of London
- £6,904 for students living at home
- £9,391 if you spend a year abroad as part of your course
Any full-time student can apply for up to 65% of the maximum amount. How much of the remainder you get depends on means testing.
- Bursaries and scholarships are extra cash provided by universities and colleges, or other organisations like charities and businesses, which you don’t have to pay back.
Not everybody can get a bursary or scholarship, and they are awarded to different students for different reasons – like your household income and how well you’ve done in your exams. Ask your choice of university what extra funding they provide and how you can apply.
Some universities might offer you a reduction on our fees – or a fee waiver – instead. If you are given a choice, with everything else being equal, it is usually better to go for a bursary, as that’s cash in your hand, rather than a reduction in a fee you may not have to repay.
- Part-time job
Many students supplement their cash when studying by getting a part-time job or working in the summer holidays. This can make a big difference to the lifestyle you can afford – and many also provide valuable skills that are helpful for getting a job later. Do think realistically about how much time you will have for work though, so that it won’t damage your studies.
- Contributions from parents
Your parents may also decide to give you money if they can afford it. However it’s also worth noting that the amount of maintenance loan you get depends for most people on their parents’ income; those who come from wealthier homes get a smaller loan. This is done because your parents are expected to contribute. So if you don’t get the full loan, while there is no way to force them, and they are not legally required to give you money, it is certainly worth having the conversation with them in advance about whether they’ll contribute. Feel free to show them this paragraph if it helps.
What doesn’t count as your income?
DON’T include things like ‘interest free overdrafts’, or far worse, credit cards’ as part of your income (i.e. money you can plan to spend). They are debt and will need paying back. So while they may help get over any minor cash flow problems in the short term, if you know money is coming soon, it’s important not to see these as part of your income.
Not all debt is the same
It’s easy to think, “I’ve got to get a student loan, why not borrow a little more?” but you have to understand how special student loans are. No other loan only needs you to repay if you’re earning enough. With others, it’ll never go away, they’ll chase you even if you can’t afford it – the interest is higher and will multiply at speed. Be very careful about taking any other form of borrowing.
Doing a budget is crucial
This is where you match up what money is coming in with what is going out. It’s incredibly important or you may end up having a great first week splashing the cash – then spend the rest of term struggling to survive. Of course, it’s tough right now to know exactly what you’ll need to spend on things like books, transport, course equipment and partying. Plus, there are other costs people often forget, like TV licence or toilet roll (none of which are much fun to buy, but are even less fun if you’re caught without them at the wrong time). Once you know what your situation is why not try Brightside’s Student Calculator, a free interactive tool to help you.