THE BLOG

How to Successfully Navigate Student Finance

02/09/2015 09:52 | Updated 01 September 2016

With the new academic year immiment, for many young people, moving away for college or university is their first experience of living alone. Navigating this new found freedom, budgeting successfully and being in control financially can prove tricky.

Whilst schools and universities have got better in providing valuable financial education to young people as part of their school curriculum in recent years, there is still a massive gap. Many young people are unfortunately still leaving school without the necessary skills to be financially capable adults. Online resources like MoneySavingExpert and the Government's Money Advice Service provide helpful tools and advice to help students and their parents manage their money more effectively.

it can be notoriously difficult to understand student finance. Changes in Government have led to many changes to student loan thresholds and repayment terms, before you even consider course costs. It can be hard to keep up with current processes, costs and entitlement, due to regional differences in how funding and course costs are allocated.

It's important to make sure that you're getting all the financial support and assistance that you're due. The student support system is very complicated, so it's important to make sure you're not missing out on anything you're entitled to. Student advisers within your university will be able to help ensure that you're applying for the benefits for your individual circumstances

It can be really complicated if you need to figure out what additional benefits - if any - you're entitled to. Most full-time students in further and higher education only qualify for means-tested benefits like housing benefit if they're parents or disabled. Part-time students aren't usually treated differently to those in full-time education, but there are exceptions.

Sometimes the most useful advice is also the least exciting: set a budget. Once you determine your expected income versus your expected expenditure, it's easy to plan for what's left - or seek help if there's going to be a shortfall.

If you're encountering any financial difficulties, seek guidance as soon as possible. It's usually easier to fix things the sooner you deal with them.

If you find your money is draining away too quickly, you could consider getting a job. There will be plenty of employers looking for workers to cover shifts in pubs, cafes and shops at the start of the new academic year.

For those at the other end, recently graduated but with student debt, it's important to speak to your bank or building society to let them know your new circumstances. In the USA, there's been growth in lower rate consolidation loans for student debt, and we may see similar solutions reach the market in the UK as student debt rises. For day to day expenses, many student current accounts are automatically transferred to a graduate account but you must ensure that you choose an account that's best for your circumstances, particularly if you're struggling to find work and have overdrafts from studying. Speak to Money Advice Service for tailored advice for your circumstances.