Managing your Money: Budgeting

In time for the start of the new academic year comes a new book from the Complete University Guide experts on how students can manage their money. Published in association with UCAS, it explains the intricacies of the student funding system, including loans, bursaries, grants and tuition fees – and gives useful advice on how students can draw up their own budgets.

Covering accommodation, food, travel and study costs, it describes how students can fund their time at university – and, most important of all, it contains a complete list of bursaries and scholarships in higher education. This is a book that will be of especial help to those in the final year of school who are preparing to apply to university. That’s because of its list of bursaries that enables students to compare one university with another. But it will also be valuable for freshers starting out on a three- or four-year degree.

It is amazing but true that may people eligible for support don’t always know that they are. Students in financial difficulty may qualify for day-to-day help in the shape of a maintenance loan, a maintenance grant, a non-repayable university bursary and also possibly the university’s own hardship fund. This could add up to £5000 to £7000 (or £7000 to £9000, if you are studying in London), so it is worth doing your research to make sure you are not losing out.

Although students now have to pay fees, the support arrangements for families who are hard-up are actually better than they were before fees were introduced. In case you didn’t know, students from families with a household income of £25,000 or below receive a full maintenance grant of £2,906. In addition they receive a minimum bursary of £319. That means their fees are met in full.

The book explains the arrangements that exist in different parts of the United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – as well as for different subjects and for overseas and EU students.

There is a useful section on living costs. A recent NUS survey estimates an average shortfall in funds of £7,408 per academic year for students in London and £6,683 for those outside London.

Many students underestimate what it will cost to be a student. The book says that if you are catering for yourself you should fix a weekly limit for supermarket shopping, say, £25, and stick to it. The best way to save on travel costs is to walk or cycle, it advises.

To help students further, it suggests that they work out a budget before beginning their course so that they keep control of money from the start. There is a free budget sheet for them to download from under the section “Managing your Money, Budgeting”.

Finally, the book gives survival tips for students on a budget which tells them to find a part-time job and go online to find the best discounts. Above all, avoid excessive spending during freshers’ week. Oh yes, and find out which books you really need on the booklist before buying.

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