April 1, 2014, by studentcontributor
Money – student loans and how to stretch them!
Hello! My name’s Andrea, I am in my third year, and have just started the very exciting clinical phase of the course! One of my biggest worries about university was money – thoughts of the thousands of pounds involved and budgeting for myself made me feel ill! I thought I’d introduce my experiences of dealing with money, and hopefully show that it’s not as tricky as it first seems!
Loans and Grants
Tuition fees seem like a scarily large amount, but it’s important to remember that this is all covered by your Tuition Fee Loan – this money is paid directly from Student Finance to your university. You will also receive a Maintenance Loan, this will get paid into your personal bank account in three instalments over the year. Its amount partially depends on your household income and whether you are a home/away student. Both loans have to be repaid, but this is only done when you have graduated and are earning over a certain threshold, something we don’t have to worry about for a while!
However there are also grants and bursaries on offer, also known as free money! Student Finance offer a Maintenance Grant and the University of Nottingham offer a number of bursaries. If you fulfil the criteria to qualify for these, they can be a useful top-up to your loans that won’t need to be paid back!
The financial support I received covered a lot of my costs, but I found a job to pay for the rest and give myself some extra spending money! Particularly during the pre-clinical part of your course, you’ll have plenty of time to take up a part time job. There may be opportunities within your university, for example in shops or cafés, or through programmes such as the Student Ambassador Scheme at the University of Nottingham. I have enjoyed being an Ambassador for the last two years, the role is flexible around your course and involves varying jobs, such as Open Days and Widening Participation Events. The money has been a significant perk, but it’s been a great chance to work with potential students and make some new friends who study different subjects.
Creating a budgeting system is tricky, but sticking to it will ensure that you keep track of your spending, and don’t end up eating only baked beans for the last few weeks of term! I’d recommend taking the total amount of maintenance money you have for the term, dividing it by the number of weeks you have, and limiting your spending per week to this amount.
If you need to curb your spending a bit, there are many easy strategies to try. Cooking with your housemates and buying from the basics and non-branded ranges in supermarkets can save you food money. Make friends in the year above and buy textbooks second-hand from them, and also make friends in the year below so you can sell your used books on to them. Buying a student railcard cuts a third off tickets to go home to see your family, and your student card itself can get you discounts in many shops, definitely make the most of it!
Student finance can seem very confusing, but you can quickly become a pro at managing money. There is a lot of funding and support available, and it allows students from all backgrounds to have an equally exciting time at university!