As an A-Level student preparing for university, at some point, you'll need to address the issue of money.
How will you finance your 3, 4 or 5 year course? Although it may not be at the top of your priority list, sooner or later, you'll need to look at your finance options. We've put together this post to help guide you through your student finance options and provide you with some practical advice for making your money stretch further as a student
How to budget as a student
Before we get down to specifics, let's look at how you plan to budget your finances while at university. Most students go from living at home and having the benefit of their family's financial advice to living in their own accommodation with flatmates and being solely responsible for their incomings and outgoings.
'What you need to know about student finance in England'
Unless you studied Business and Finance at secondary school, you probably don't have a lot of experience in budgeting. And that's why it's important that you have a plan in place before you get to university.
At Success at School, we suggest you create a simple spreadsheet with a list of all your possible outgoings in one column and your total incomings in the other. Add each column up and what you'll probably find is that living the student lifestyle is going to be more expensive than you thought, especially if you're moving into your own accommodation.
The following infographic from the YourCash website, provides a useful breakdown of the average student spend per area in England:
Student finance calculator
One of the best tools we've found for preparing your university budget is GovUK's student finance calculator. This handy tool keeps things simple with a series of multiple choice questions. Before you get started, there are two pieces of information that you'll need to know:
- How much your tuition fees will cost
- What your parent's combined household income is
Once you have this information to hand, you can complete the questionnaire and find out how much of a tuition fee and maintenance loan you're entitled to.
For more practical tips on how to budget as a student, check out our post How to do University on a Budget.
Applying for student finance in England
The two main sources of student finance in England are tuition fee loans and maintenance loans
The following information about student finance is mainly aimed at students studying in England. Although most of this information will still be useful to students studying in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, applying for financial support in these countries is slightly different.
In order to apply for student finance, you need to set up an account with Student Finance England and apply through their online application form. To complete the application process, you will need to provide details about your personal finances and living arrangements. You'll also need to provide proof of identity.
Students from Scotland should apply through the SAAS website, students from Wales should apply through Student Finance Wales and those from Northern Ireland should apply through the Student Finance NI website.
For more information on applying for finance, check out this video from Student Finance England:
Student loans in England
Unless you're eligible for a bursary or a scholarship, most students in England need to pay tuition fees to cover the cost of their university course. However, are eligible to apply for a student loan to temporarily cover the cost of the fees.
Tuition fee loan
A tuition fee loan is designed to cover the cost of your fees. As with any type of loan, you will need to pay the amount that you borrow back after you have graduated and start earning over a certain amount of money (details below). You can take out a student loan of up to £9,000 a year (for full-time students) but you also have the option of applying for a loan of £6,000 a year, so you won't have as much to repay.
In terms of student finance repayment, you only start paying back your student loan once you start earning over £21,000 per year. When this time comes, you need to pay back 9% of your income.
Student maintenance loan
If you decide to move away from home and live on your own or with flatmates while at university, then you may want to also consider applying for a student maintenance loan. This type of loan covers the cost of your accommodation and living expenses.
The amount that you can borrow depends on your household income. If your annual household income is less than £25,000 you are eligible to apply for a student maintenance loan of up to £8,200, which increases to £10,702 if you live in London.
As with the tuition fee loan, you’ll start repaying the maintenance loan once you start earning more than £21,000 per year.
Working out your finances as a student can be tricky. However, as with most aspects of university life, being organised makes things a whole lot easier. At Success at School, we would suggest that if you're thinking about going to university, then it's never too early to start thinking about you will support yourself financially.