Between accommodation costs and making the most of student life, budgeting for university can be tough. Learning how to budget as a student can help reduce money worries. If you estimate your student budget before going to university, you could identify where you need to make savings or find extra income. In this 2-part series, we’ll be looking at the two most important parts of budgeting for university in the UK.
The first step in managing your money is to work out your minimum income for the year. Below are some of the most common sources of income for students:
Student Loan (including your Maintenance Loan)
The tuition fee loan will go straight to the university. The maintenance loan is intended to cover a student’s living costs – but it’s means-tested, based on your household income. Only those with a low household income are likely to be eligible for full financial support. The actual amount of maintenance loan depends on where you ordinarily live before you become a student. Each nation offers different living cost support. How much you can get also depends on where you live while you study. If you live at home, you’ll get a lesser amount. Students living in London get a higher amount (except if they’re from Scotland).
Get your student finance application in early, and make sure you get confirmation of your entitlement to student finance. If the provider is waiting on further evidence, your loan could be held up. Once confirmed, you should get your first maintenance loan payment in your bank account shortly after you register on your course.
Other Financial Support
Some students may be eligible for other financial support, such as grants, bursaries or scholarships. This could include government grants if you have children to look after, bursaries if you have a low household income, or university scholarships. It’s worth checking for other sources of financial support. Even a small amount of extra money can make a welcome difference to your student budget.
When managing your money, remember to include any contributions your parents might make to support you while you study. Make sure you add it to your income in your student budget.
Income from Full and Part-Time Work
Many students have part-time jobs to help with their finances. You could also try and get a holiday job in the summer before going to university. As well as saving up for university, the work skills you gain could help you get part-time work once you’re on your course.
If you’re still concerned about managing your money as a student, you could consider a gap year. Taking one before you start university could help you save extra money.
Make sure you don’t overpay income tax if you work. Students don’t generally earn enough in a year to go above the ‘personal allowance’ income tax threshold. However, if you work full time, your tax is worked out on the assumption that you’re doing the job over the course of a year. Check your payslips. If you need to reclaim income tax, claim a tax refund from the government.
Many universities offer sandwich courses, involving a placement year or industry program integrated into your course. Many placements include a salary, and some may lead to sponsorship during your final year. They can provide a great experience and could boost your chances of being employed after graduation.
In the second part of this series, we’ll be looking at the major expenses that you can expect to incur as part of university life. Be sure to check back soon. In the meantime, feel free to share your views and experiences on what we’ve covered so far.