Education: Students unprepared for cost of university life

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The Independent Online
Most students believe that they will get through university without having to borrow any money despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

A new study by NatWest bank shows that 61 per cent do not expect to take out loans: in practice tens of thousands students graduate with five-figure debts.

Researchers questioned 1,200 A-level students just days after the Government announced that, from next September, students will be asked to pay pounds 1,000 a year towards their tuition fees, at present paid wholly by the taxpayer. Students already take out loans towards living costs. Nearly a quarter of the students questioned gave no figures for rent or bills when they were asked to plan the costs of undergraduate living, but 55 per cent made an allowance for the council tax even though students do not have to pay it.

The bank advises students to live in university-owned housing for their first year because they will then know exactly how much they need to pay for accommodation each term. It also suggests that they should have only one current account - as students with more than one are likely to have bigger debts - and that they should also apply for a government loan in plenty of time, as the money may take longer to arrive than they expect.