Our blog this month has been provided by Student Money Saver.
The Ultimate Guide to University Finance
Going to university is exciting, great fun and even a tiny bit terrifying – soon you’ll be fending for yourself, more or less, planning meals, organising your own time and managing your finances. Money at university can seem tricky, but this guide will take away some confusion and get you well on your way to enjoying student life.
Fees & loans
The most important thing is setting up your maintenance and tuition fee loans. You apply for these through Student Finance. Each country in the UK has its own system, so make sure you apply though the right one! Choose from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. You don’t pay anything back until you’re earning over a certain amount (and your payments adjust whenever your income changes), and if you haven’t paid it all back after 30 years the debt is written off.
Student current account
You might already have a bank account, but when you’re a student, you’ll have different financial needs. As soon as you’ve got an unconditional offer for uni, or the grades for a conditional one, you can apply for a student account. This is different to your normal one because it usually offers a low- or 0%-interest overdraft, a lifesaver if you need to temporarily borrow. Don’t be seduced by freebies, and resist the temptation to stick with your bank, as loyalty could cost you down the line! This student bank account guide from Student Money Saver helps you compare different accounts and find the right deal for you.
Bursaries and scholarships
The government may have scrapped maintenance grants, but you may still be able to get some financial help from the universities themselves. Check on the websites of the places you’ve applied to, or are thinking of applying to, or get in touch with them to ask what kinds of support they can offer. For a broader look, The Scholarship Hub is a comprehensive database that can help you find scholarships (you have to register with them to browse, but it’s free).
If your phone breaks, your laptop conks out or your car gets stolen, insurance can save you. Get yourself covered before you head off, just case the worst happens to any of your stuff. You could be covered by your parents’ home insurance, as you’ll be living ‘temporarily outside the home’, or your halls of residence contract may offer basic contents insurance.
After the whirlwind of Freshers, you might check your bank account and leap back in horror. That student loan can slip swiftly through your fingers if you don’t keep track of your spending, so think about drawing up a basic budget to save you from panic later on! Brightside have a good student calculator to get you started, or check out Martin Lewis’ more in-depth look at budget-planning.