Last week Jenni took a brief look at the Lowdown of Student Finance. This week, in line with the UK Budget 2012 Day, she has a quick look at how she’s going to handle her money at university; that is how she plans to budget her student finance for the first time! This is what she has to say.
Student life seems very exciting to me. I’m working hard to get the A Level results I need, I’ve applied through UCAS and got my university places, will accept my firm and insurance place in a couple of weeks time for the university I choose to go to and have applied to student finance (www.direct.gov.uk/studentfinance) and pretty much been on top of everything to date that I can be. The key thing that remains will be to think about my budget but first here’s a recap on where students can generate financial support from:
In addition to the maintenance loan there are a number of other avenues to explore to generate some income depending on your situation such as
- Bursaries – these are offered by universities
- The National Scholarship Programme – this will be new for 2012/13 and will be available to students whose households have no more than £25,000. Again they will be allocated by the universities and colleges who will also have the choice how to distribute them but they will provide some extra support to students on top of the main student finance
- Disabled Students Allowance – this is a grant which provides extra money for students with disabilities, including chronic health conditions, mental health conditions and learning difficulties such as dyslexia. They don’t have to be repaid and the amount awarded does not depend on household income.
- Childcare Grant – for full time students with dependent children this will help towards the costs of approved childcare(up to 85%) and do not have to be repaid
- Parent’s Learning Allowance – for full time students with dependent children to help towards the costs of materials and books
- Adult Dependent’s Grant – extra help for a full time student who have an adult that is dependable on them and does not have to be repaid
- Special Support Grant – for full time students on benefits (NB with this you can not claim the Maintenance grant as well)
- Access to Learning Fund – for students who find themselves in hardship and need extra support
Once the applications for funding and finance have been sorted and the first cheque comes in with my maintenance loan and grant etc, I know that I’m going to need to think about budgeting. For many students leaving home and going to university is the first time they will have had to think about this to help keep spending under control! The key thing will be to remember that spending time setting a budget at the beginning of the year will only be worth it, if I keep an eye on my finances in line with the budget for the rest of the year! It doesn’t sound like much fun but there again having a huge debt and the pressure of being unable to cope with that sounds a lot worse! It may even help save money too.
So what to put on the budget! It needs to be realistic! University is about studying but it’s also about learning to live independently, meeting new friends and enjoying your time there so the budget needs to reflect that. The first thing to do is work out the priorities! Remember the tuition fee is catered for, so this budget is working out everything else!
First on the list has to be accommodation, followed by food, and other household basics such as
- Service charge
- TV rental
- TV licence
Then comes the list of the everyday expenditure
- Photocopying/printer ink/toner cartridges
- Transport – either public transport or for students with a car consider:
- MOT certificate (if your car is over 3 years old)
- Residents’ parking permit
- Servicing/maintenance (allow for new tyres)
- Clubs and Hobbies (sports, music …)
Finally there’s everything else
- Trips out
- Meals out
- Graduation costs
Remember some things may not be needed immediately but for the budget they need to be included in the list. That way the cost can then be divided up over a number of months and the money can be saved in advance to pay for them!
So basically the student budget needs to have a column with the amount of money coming in on a spreadsheet and then another column with the costs of all the above added up which is called expenditure. The idea is that the expenditure is no more than the income – if it is there are problems and the budget needs adjusting as do the student expectations!
Then finally, as soon as the money comes in as a student, open a bank account to bank it and start sticking to the budget! That should, I hope, may for as least stress as possible!
It sounds simple but everyone knows that it isn’t. There are many organisations available to help students handle their money at university but the most important thing to do is to ask for help if you need it.
For parents too, it can be a worrying time, especially with everything that’s been in the news recently about student finance especially if you want to give your child some financial support through this process. However, if you need help with any aspect of your finances from planning to mortgages to pensions and much more Citrus Financial Management Ltd can advise more. They can be found on-line at www.citrusfinancial.co.uk or on facebook at www.facebook.co.uk/citrusfinancial