Money comes from three main sources: the maintenance grant, the student loan and parents.
This comes from your local authority and the amount you get is based on your parents' income in the previous year. Some allowance is made for things like other dependants and interest payments but to give a rough guide: if your parents earn less than pounds l5,500 between them you should get the maximum (pounds l,885 for 1995/96), if they earn more than pounds 32,000 they will probably have to pay it all.
Your LEA will want you to apply for the grant early in your final year at school, so be sure you get the right forms. It puts you at the right end of the application processing queue.
It is government policy that this becomes a major way in which students get money and to ensure that it happens they are continually decreasing the size of the maximum grant. The loan is interest free until you graduate. Interest on the amount you borrow is added each year at the rate of inflation for the previous year. You begin to pay it off in the April after you graduate or when you get a job that pays above a threshold level per year.
Several companies, particularly those with a commitment to science and engineering, offer sponsorship to students, as do the armed forces. The sponsorship normally takes the form of an annual or termly cash payment, and the deal usually includes an opportunity for the student to have a work placement with the sponsor. To find out more contact your Careers Advisory Service.
New students are offered all kinds of incentives to open their account with a particular bank. You may think this is odd, but it makes sense to them, because they reckon that one day you will be earning (and borrowing) more than average and they know that people don't like the hassle of changing banks. So once you're theirs you are likely to stay theirs. The High Street banks all offer students interest-free overdrafts of between pounds 500 and pounds 750, which can be handy if you experience cash-flow problems. Some will let you increase your overdraft in the final year; others may reduce it unless you have got a job. Check this out, rather than be tempted by the free pizza.
Most students need to earn money during the vacations to eat and also to pay back debts accumulated over the previous year. It will be easier to find this kind of work in some places than others and it always helps if you have got some basic skills, such as typing, driving, computer competence, juggling, that kind of thing. Some students also work in term time, but find it can interfere with studies.
'I thought I was really smart. I took a year out and saved quite a bit. I even bought a car and paid for the tax and insurance. I felt really independent. By the end of the second term, the lot had gone and I was into my student loan. The car had to go and it was difficult to live within my means after being able to spend freely for nearly two years. That's the only thing I regret about university.'
'The best day's work I ever did was charming the manager of the local supermarket the summer before going to uni. I get work there every vacation - they know I work well, so I'm always first in the queue when there are jobs going.'
'I got a full grant and the loan, of course, but my parents couldn't afford any extras. Some of the students in my hall had cars and seemed to spend money like water. It was really hard but you are always going to meet people who are better off than you, so you just have to learn to live with it. I still had loads of fun and most of us were as broke as each other.'
l check out the banks
and building societies
opening your account
l keep a record of
everything you spend
(even if you have to
do it secretly from
l avoid credit and
l work out a budget
and stick to it - even
during the January
l apply for your
student loan in the
first term, but get it
paid in termly
l be brave: read your
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