STUDENT TRACK : Singing for supper to survive another term

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The Independent Online
The series of Christmas concerts at King's College Chapel, Cambridge, saved choral scholar Joseph Crouch from financial disaster in his first term at Cambridge.

"I will be earning quite a bit over Christmas including the Christmas Eve broadcast, but this term has been difficult.

"My grant cheque took three weeks to come through, which was pretty dreadful. I had to borrow £150 from the college, but they did not charge me any interest. They are quite used to doing that. By the time I had paid back the £150 and paid my college billI had nothing left. Then I managed to earn £100 from a couple of concerts so I have survived. Then I cashed in my premium bonds.

"A charity gave me £150 in a bookshop account, so books have not been a problem. That was my mum's idea.

"Next term will be more difficult because I won't have the charity money or the premium bond money. Christmas shopping will finish it, and there won't be any more concerts."

Joe made a bit of a mess of opening a student bank account. He paid his grant cheque into his existing NatWest account, not a special student bank account. Then he could not open a student account at Midland, with benefits such as a free overdraft, because he did not have his grant cheque to pay in.

"Midland finally let me open a student account but the overdraft is a problem. My application has been rejected.

"Midland has free currency exchange for students and commission-free traveller's cheques, which will be useful when I'm on tour."

Tom Evans, who is studying geography at Hull University, was aghast at how much he had to spend in the first few weeks of term. The £140 his mother gave him at the outset went almost instantly.

When he arrived in hall he was immediately relieved of £60 - £20 caution money to cover breakages, £20 key deposit and £20 JCR membership.

He bought just two books for himself alone, and got together with other students to share the cost of some more books. That bill came to £80.

Then he had to go on a field trip to Scarborough, which set him back another £20.

He plays rugby, which is proving expensive. He needed new boots, which cost £70. "They were the only ones I could find to fit me.'' Then he had to buy the club tie, socks, shorts and training top, which cost another £80, plus a £10 joining fee. He plays twice a week and pays £2.50 to £3 per match, and has to buy a meal.

Jocelyn Hallum is studying maths at Kent University. She has ended the term with a £50 overdraft with Lloyds Bank. "I'm doing fine," she says.

Her mother, Maureen Hallum, was going to give her £500 at the beginning of term, but gave her £250 and said she could come back if she ran short. "I'm quite pleased with the way she has managed," Mrs Hallum said. Jocelyn says her money has been spent on her social life, canoeing and karate. It cost her £13 to join the canoeing club and about £20 for every weekend away. The karate club membership was only £6, but her new suit cost £40.

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