Going away to university is a hugely important milestone for many young people.
Not only do you start taking the first steps towards your dream career, but you also get some independence. But frivolous, independent living – and of course, university fees – don’t come cheap. And with the cost of going to university rising, more and more people are struggling to cope with crippling student debt.
If you’re thinking about heading to university in the autumn, you don’t have to let debt concerns worry you. In fact, there are a whole host of ways you can minimise your debt whilst you’re still studying:
1. Scholarships, Funding and Bursaries
If you’re a UK resident, you may be entitled to additional funding or bursaries (grants you don’t pay back) depending on your parents’ income. Likewise, some courses and universities will offer scholarships to particularly gifted individuals.
Before you make your final choices on courses and establishments, do your research. Find out if you will be eligible for additional cash injections at certain universities. Any extra cash you do get, should be stored in a savings account and used to help you through university – not to blow on a night out in Fresher’s Week!
2. Live at Home
If you really want to reduce your student debt, choose a university that is close to home. By living with your parents and commuting in every day, you will be able to save considerable amounts of money over the three years.
You will only need the loan for your course fees, so will have a smaller amount of debt to pay back at the end of your time at university. While half the fun is living away, you can still enjoy all the benefits of university but at a reduced cost.
3. Spend to Your Means
It can be tempting to live lavishly at university, even though you don’t have much disposable cash.
If you want to keep your debt to a minimum, make a conscious effort to spend to your means. When your loan goes into your account, don’t blow it all on a big night out or a spending trip. Instead, make sure you have enough to live off until your next cash injection.
4. Keep a House Budget
When you live in a student house, it is everyone’s responsibility to pay the bills on time. Set up a joint account and draw up a budget. Firstly, make sure everyone pays enough money into the joint account to cover the rent and bills.
You then need to decide if you’re buying food as a house or individuals. If you choose to do this together, make sure everyone knows how much they owe and when. You should also find out some simple ways to make your money go further.
This is good practice for when you buy or rent your own place after university.
5. Get a Part-Time Job
Getting a part-time job to help you make a bit of extra cash is another great idea.
Not only does it stop you finding yourself in a great deal of student debt, it also keeps money coming in so you can enjoy your time at university. If there is a shortage of jobs in your area, you can always put your university degree to good use and go freelance.
If you’re a writer, photographer or designer, offer up your services in your spare time to make some cash and get some experience. You never know, you might be able to make a profitable business out of this foray.
6. Avoid Overdrafts
Where possible, try and avoid overdrafts. While they can help you out in the short term, you may end up worse off in the long run. For example, if you exceed your overdraft limit or fail to clear it by the agreed date, you will be hit by hefty fines. If you do use an overdraft, make sure you pay everything off as soon as you can.
By following some of these tips, you may be able to minimise your university debt. Obviously, you will always end up with some debt at the end. But by making a conscious effort to be money savvy, you might be surprised at how simple it can be to save some cash.
Clare Evans is a freelance blogger, regularly sharing her top tips on saving money as a student, making the most of university, and bagging your dream job at the end.