First year is about settling in but don’t be scared to get a job if you need one
Loans, grants, jobs, bills and debt.
These are all things we have to think about carefully before committing to a university degree.
Sorting university funding and finances shouldn’t be as difficult as it seems, so how can you sail smoothly through these three or so years, hopefully, without drowning in debt?
DESIblitz speaks to past, present and future students to find out how to make your university experience easier regarding finances.
What University Should You Go to?
Obviously, you should never base your uni choices purely on what you can or cannot afford. It could be based on courses, preferences, distance, family connections and a huge number of other things.
Costs are only a small factor: “I only considered prices when it came to looking into the accommodation at Sheffield, never before,” says Savannah Briscoe, a history student at the University of Sheffield.
Choosing a university, campus, and course should be based on what feels right for you. You should aim to feel comfortable, this is your new home.
Do You Get Loans, Grants or Bursaries?
Unfortunately, the upcoming undergraduates no longer get grants, but everyone is offered loans. DESIblitz carried out a survey asking ten different people about university finances. 83 percent of students asked said they didn’t understand loans and financing before starting university.
The online form at GOV.UK allows for all students to apply for loans, based on household income. The borrower will then pay back the loan once earning above £21,000 a year.
There are also bursaries available for people who have disabilities or children, in order to help them a little bit more.
There are lots more tips on finances and support on UCAS.com that show you where to begin with your university journey, ensuring you’ll never have to do it alone.
Zainab Anwar, an Education student at Newman University says:
“Paying my rent and searching for second year houses really taught me about the responsibilities of money. It made me so much more aware of the importance of it and how difficult it can be sometimes. I can’t have an online shopping splurge anymore.”
Where Will You Live?
University accommodation is usually calculated weekly. Although it should not impact your choice hugely, you still have to consider whether you can afford to stay in a certain type of halls.
This is where budgeting comes in. A second year student from Aberystwyth University insists: “Money management is key. I would have liked to have been told how to budget my money.”
The University of Birmingham offers a range of different undergraduate accommodation types, ranging from £130 to £200 per week. You should be aware of how much can be spent on rent. Is that en-suite bathroom really worth the extra money?
How Can You Manage Your Finances?
58 percent of students from the same questionnaire claimed they had never been taught how to manage their money. It’s actually easy once you know how.
Just think, you get £X amount of loans; you need £XY for accommodation and £XYZ for food and bills.
If you can then put £XZ away in savings, you’re left with a small amount for yourself. Totals depend on how much needs to be dedicated to bills first, and the rest is a personal choice.
Should You Get a Job?
There are always opportunities to gain extra money at university. Most students say that getting a job isn’t completely necessary, and it’s not. But it is definitely beneficial.
The first year is primarily about settling in but don’t be scared to get a job if you need one.
Tom Hughes, a postgraduate, told DESIblitz: “I didn’t have a part time job at uni, but I definitely think it would’ve helped. It could’ve helped a lot with savings and overdrafts.”
That’s not to say you must get a job whilst studying; but if you have the time, the extra cash can’t hurt.
What about Student Banking?
Talking of overdrafts, many banks offer student accounts for people at the university. You can talk to the likes of Lloyds, Santander, and NatWest in order to find out the deals each bank offers, and which one suits you best.
An overdraft is one of the first things they could offer: letting you spend money you may not essentially have, within reason and as long as you pay it back.
Lloyds, for instance, supports you with you money choices with text alerts, banking apps, Money Manager, commission free travel money and so much more.
There are hundreds of different choices you could make (and again they are all optional) in order to make your university finances easier to understand and control for yourself.
No one can predict that university will be so straightforward. It is down to you, as an independent student, to keep yourself afloat. There are many obstacles you will face as a student, but finances definitely aren’t one.
Tips? You should apply for your student loan and research how much you are entitled to get. Try and enter university with savings. Manage your money. Potentially get a job or student account.
And finally? Enjoy yourself! Once you’ve figured all this out all you can do is have a good time.