I've just been on to my bank to increase my overdraft facility from pounds 75 to the pounds 1,100 I now owe them. They are very understanding but I'd like to complete my degree without panicking about money. The grant covers my hall residency fees, pounds 470 a term, but really it's more like pounds 550, as the term is so short. I need to stay in Oxford to use the libraries and prepare for next term. I don't buy new clothes, go on holiday, use the dining room or buttery and I walk everywhere. I cook my own food, that's pounds 30 a week, and need pounds 20 a week pocket money . My biggest expense is books , pounds 80 to pounds 100 a term. I'm not against the principle of borrowing, but I quibble at the amount. It's impossible to live on the full grant and student loan: I can't even cover my basic living costs without getting into debt. It affects the quantity, rather than quality, of my work. I'd like to spend more time studying in the holidays rather than working as a temp, and buy more books so I wouldn't have the expense of staying in Oxford to use the libraries. I'd like to consider postgraduate courses but the pressure when I graduate next year is to get a job to pay off debts.
JOHN CRAMNER, 21, media studies at Westminster. Grant for last year was pounds 1,680, which covered just over a third of his expenditure during term time. Has the maximum student loans - and a pounds 500 overdraft.
This summer I'm staying in London to find work, but that means paying pounds 750 in extra rent for my room in the house I share. Last summer I went home to Swavesey, sent off my CV to masses of people and got only one week's work, gardening, for pounds 120. Bus fares cost pounds 5 a day and I had to leave home at 5.30 am. In term-time my monthly expenditure is pounds 233 rent, about pounds 25 for household bills, food pounds 48, pocket money pounds 84 and clothes about pounds 20. I go through periods when I am completely overdrawn and mum's contribution is usually a month's rent each term. But some of my friends are worse off. Fortunately we live within walking distance of the campus and Tesco. We always eat at home. I can't go to as many films or music events as I'd like to, or buy as many records as I want, you can't really ask your parents to pay for things like that. I buy new clothes only when I am working - usually doing picture returns for magazines. Last year I earned pounds 3,000 which was brilliant, but that work has dried up now. When I finish next summer I will owe the full pounds 5,000 in student loans and whatever my overdraft will be. So I must find a job as soon as possible.
JANE EDWARDS, 21, history at Liverpool. Gets pounds 600 a month from her parents in term time - of which pounds 300 goes in rent and utility bills. Spends most of her vacations in the family business - providing secretarial and clerical holiday cover.
I'm luckier than a lot of people in that my family are supporting me - and of course the business pays me in vacations. It's real work and it pays a real wage: almost pounds 900 a month after tax. I live at home with the folks when I'm working because my flatmate Beth and and I are keeping our flat all year round. Books are the biggest lump sum in my budget; in my first year I was lucky and found about half of them second-hand, but last year I had to get all of them new. That was pounds 126 in not much more than an hour. I try to budget carefully: Beth and I each put pounds 18 a week into the housekeeping - plus a tenner from our boyfriends because they eat with us a couple of times in the week and at weekends. You've got to trust people when you're sharing - our only real horror story has been with one phone bill. My boyfriend spent ages on the phone trying to arrange a work and study trip to Eastern Europe - we thought the calls had cost pounds 40, but when the bill came it was more like pounds 100! But we wouldn't like to be without a phone, it's great to be able to keep in touch with home.