Student Finances: Getting Your Money In Order At University

Thousands of students begin university every year, and have to throw themselves into learning how to take care of themselves. One aspect of their lives they will need to have a handle of as soon as they begin their lectures is their finances. That’s why I’ve put together some great tips on how students can organise their money and make sure they are always within budget.

Open a Student Bank Account

The first thing to do when you start university life is to open a student bank account. High street banks offer different accounts, each providing distinct perks for students. It is a good idea to research these wisely and choose a product that really fits in with your needs and offers you the most.
Student bank accounts typically have preferential rates, overdraft facilities and a number of freebies, so it is certainly worth moving your current account to a student one to take advantage of these. Among the benefits you can receive are free insurance policies, free music downloads, commission-free foreign currency and interest-free overdrafts for up to £3,000 – ideal if you think money will be tight at some points in the year.
Even if don’t plan to use your overdraft, it is advisable to get an account with this facility, as you can actually make money by using it. For instance, you could take the cash out of the account and put it in an ISA, earning tax-free interest on the money in the process!

Look for Grants

Something that lots of students often forget to look into is whether they are applicable for receiving a grant that will help boost their finances during university. There is a number of scholarships and grants you could opt for, so it is worth hunting around if you think you might be eligible – this might be because you have a low family income, you achieved particularly admirable results in your A Levels, or if you plan to study abroad as part of your course.
By doing lots of research, you could acquire as much as £3,000 in grants, depending on which one you get, so it is certainly worth putting the leg work in and seeing if there’s one that applies to you.

Use your student loan wisely

Once you’re signed up to your student loan and have opened a student account, make sure your maintenance loan gets deposited into your account. The student loan you receive is divided between your tuition fee loan and your maintenance loan; the former is paid directly to the university itself while the latter is put into your bank account.
Maintenance loans can be as much as £7,675 (for students beginning university in 2012/13) depending on where you study and what your household income is. These are paid in three instalments – one at the start of each new term. Therefore, it is imperative you make the money last until your next deposit.
This can be difficult as you are not paid regularly, so you will have to work out how much you are allowed to spend in accordance to how many weeks you have to make the cash stretch. I suggest dividing the loan by the number of weeks between instalments and using this figure as a guidance about what you can comfortably spend each week without running out of cash towards the end of term. If you find this amount unmanageable to live on, you will have to consider supplementing your finances, such as by getting another job.

Pick Accommodation Wisely

It is always a good idea to consider your next choice of student accommodation carefully, so you can find the best option for you. The reason why doing this will help boost your finances is you may spot somewhere to live that is extremely cost-effective and that you want to snap up straight away before other students do.
Another reason for searching for your student accommodation wisely is because lots of places offer different things included the price of the rent. For instance, you could find somewhere that incorporates utility bills in the rental fees or the accommodation itself has a number of facilities, such as a gym, laundry service and free Wi-fi, meaning students don’t have to take these extra costs into account when budgeting their finances.

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Natasha Al-Atassi write about Student News for Vita Student Accommodation shes is an avid wedding blogger and participates in various student forums.