Freshers’ Week could mark start of debt crisis for students

Video: More than 1.6 million students lack confidence in their understanding of personal finance, according to Blackbullion

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The Independent Online

Students may be not so clever when it comes to their money – which is bad news for those facing Freshers’ Week. More than 1.6 million of them lack confidence in their understanding of personal finance, reckons the money-management expert Blackbullion.

The site warns that the knowledge gap could lead people into financial difficulties. Its research showed, for instance, that three out of five students don't understand the repayment terms of student loans.

Meanwhile, almost half of students go to university with no savings and 15 per cent actually turn up for higher education in debt.

Vivi Friedgut, founder of Blackbullion, said universities should help students make better-informed financial decisions. "Universities have a duty of care to help students address money worries and avoid crippling debt," she argues.

But students can help themselves by learning how to budget and by becoming a bargain hunter.

It’s estimated that the average three year course could cost a student around £50,000, with the bulk of that taken up tuition fees.

Living expenses, too, eat up the cash which is why we’re likely to see a new wave of hard-up students finding fresh ways to eke out a meal over several nights, for instance.

But while money will be tight, there are plenty of deals for new under-graduates to take advantage of, not least through their own union's discount card.

The NUS Extra card is available to anyone studying full-time or part-time. To be eligible you must be 16 or over and studying in further or higher education. There is no upper age limit.

There's a range of deals on offer through the card, including at restaurants, clothes shops and cinemas. But perhaps the most useful is 10 per cent off groceries at 2,800 Co-operative Food stores.

In fact it topped a table of the discount "used most regularly by NUS Extra cardholders". Next most used was New Look, followed by Amazon, Superdrug, Asos, Odeon and Pizza Express.

The card costs £12 for a year and can be ordered through nus.org.uk/en/nus-extra.

However, anyone opening a student account with Lloyds or Bank of Scotland can get an NUS Extra card for free for up to three years.

Meanwhile Amazon Student is a programme that claims to help students save time and money on their shopping by offering six months of free one-day deliveries.

And until 25 October it's giving students who sign up for the trial the chance to win on-the-spot prizes worth up to £3,000. For terms and conditions visit amazon.co.uk/joinstudent.

Looking for credit card or current account deals? Search here

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