Money matters can be a big concern for many of our students, but you don’t need to worry. Our expert team can advise you on all kinds of financial issues, helping you to budget, plan ahead and get the support to help you afford your time at college.
Our Careers & Welfare team can help you understand any costs associated with college and discuss any finance or funding opportunities available to you. You can find out more information on financial support for courses on our Fees, Finance and Funding page. We can also give you advice and guidance on budgeting, dealing with debt and general money-saving tips, as you’ll see below.
Understanding student loans
You might be applying for the Advanced Learner Loan or higher education Student Finance Package, and even though the idea of starting a new course is exciting, it’s important that to take the time to stop and reflect before you make a commitment. Take a closer look at how studying may affect your income, and if you can manage on reduced working hours. You should also ensure you’re eligible for a student loan. If you’re in doubt about anything, speak to us, or seek advice from Money Advice Service on 0808 800 0118 before completing a student loan application.
Getting a bank accounts
There are a number of different types of bank accounts available, including basic, low interest, student and budgeting. Take a look around and compare your different options. With a student account, you may benefit from special offers including railcards, high street discounts and extended overdrafts, so decide which is best for your lifestyle.
Don’t forget if you are studying on courses at levels 1, 2 and 3, a student account will not be appropriate as this is designed for university level students and you should be looking at other types of accounts such as basic bank accounts.
If you struggle with planning and organising, you may want to look at a budget account, where all your direct debits and standing orders are paid separately from your current account, meaning you can easily see how much money you need to pay bills, and how much you can spend and save.
Using an overdraft
Overdrafts can give you an extra buffer whilst you’re waiting for loans, grants or wages to be paid, but be careful you’re not charged any fees for going into your overdraft – whether it’s planned or unplanned.
If you’re considering opening a student account with an overdraft facility, you will require a UCAS offer letter and documentation such as passport, birth certificate as proof of identity.
The importance of budgeting and planning ahead
If you’re receiving student maintenance loan payments, grants, or any other form of funding, you might only receive money at certain times of the year. You’ll need to plan how to use this money carefully to afford bills, food, toiletries and clothing throughout the year, and not spend it all in the first few months.
You’ll have expected costs – such as rent, utilities and food - which you can plan ahead for you, but you also need to be prepared for something unexpected too. You might also want to travel during your study breaks, buy a car, or get a deposit together for a home when you graduate. To do all this, you’ll need to budget your outgoing costs, and save money where you can.
If you don’t budget effectively, you may find that you miss payments, which can result in expensive late fees, a poor credit rating, you falling into arrears, and even losing your property. It’s important you are aware of the consequences of a commitment, and what happens if you miss a payment.
Save where you can with a rainy day fund
Savings accounts can be a useful way to separate your savings for day-to –day spending with money set aside for future plans or emergencies. Online banking is a great way to manage your accounts and setting up a rainy day fun can provide a safety net if you need money urgently, perhaps for a lost phone, an outfit for an interview, or a bill you forgot about.
Don’t forget, you can try and make savings every day too. Use your NUS card for discounts, barter/haggle where possible, use price comparison websites for anything you need to find the best price, and recycle or re-use whatever you can!
Don’t bury your head in the sand
According to The Money Charity, 50% of students say that fears over their finance could affect their studies. If anything is bothering you, even if it’s the smallest thing, it’s vital that you seek help and avoid common mistakes before any debt you might have spirals out of control.
We can help you recognise any money problems and make a realistic budgeting plan. Using credit to pay credit can just results in more problems, and ignoring letter & demands for payment will not make the problem go away. You may need to speak to your creditors to come up with a solution, and our team can help you do that.
Book in with our advisors
All our advisors are fully supportive and will not judge you at all, no matter what your circumstances might be. They are experienced in money matters and trained to help with sensitive issues such as financial hardship. Our team can help you with a range of welfare support, and connect you to an organisation who can help further, such as groups who may be able to speak to you debtors and arrange a payment schedule. Just speak to reception at your campus, or call the Careers & Welfare team on 03333 222 444.
Extra help from specialist organisations
As well as our Careers & Welfare team, you can also get specialist finance advice and debt support from a range of organisations and charities. These include:
- Step Change Debt Charity 0800 138 1111 www.stepchange.org
- National Debt line 0808 808 4000. www.nationaldebtline.org
- Debt Support Trust 0800 085 0226 www.debtsupporttrust.org.uk
- Local Citizen Advice Bureau 03 444 111 222 www.citizensadvice.org.uk