How to manage your money as a student
Managing your money whilst you're at university can be a challenge. Our student banking guide is here to help.
Planning for university
It's good to get some things sorted before you head off to uni so you can make the most of your money when you're there.
Here are our top five tips:
Build up some savings
If you can, save up some money before you go. Saving for university could help you stock up on the essentials while you're waiting for your student loan to come through. Or you can keep it aside for a rainy day.
We have lots of tools and guidance to help you get into the habit of saving.
Open a student bank account
Opening a student bank account will give you somewhere to keep and manage your money. Most come with an arranged overdraft and online banking too.
There are plenty of student accounts to choose from. Different providers offer different incentives. An interest-free arranged overdraft could be one useful perk, as paying overdraft interest rates can be pricey. There may be certain conditions you'll need to meet to have an arranged overdraft. And keep in mind you'll have to pay it back.
Set up your student finance
Why? Because your student loan can help cover both your tuition fees and living costs.
The money for your tuition fees will go straight to your uni. So, once you've applied for your loan, and received confirmation that you've got one, you don't normally have to worry about paying your fees.
If you live in Scotland and go to a Scottish uni, your tuition fees may be covered for you by the government. You can't just move to Scotland before you go to uni to qualify for that lovely perk though. Check to see if you quality for tuition fee funding (opens in a new window).
Whichever part of the UK you live in, it's best to sort your loan as soon as you can so you know how much you'll get to help with your living costs. It's also a good idea to make a note of when you'll be paid your maintenance loan installments. This will help you budget for the periods in-between your payments.
How much you get will depend on your financial circumstances, including how much your parents earn. The expectation is that if your parents earn enough, they can help too.
Think about taking out contents insurance
You might be heading off to uni with some expensive things like a laptop, phone or TV. So, taking out insurance for your possessions might just be worth it.
But check your parents' home insurance first. You may well be covered by that. If you're staying in university accommodation, that too may come with insurance cover.
We offer contents insurance for renters to help protect your personal possessions.
Choose your uni accommodation wisely
Not all student accommodation is the same and it doesn’t all cost the same either. Features like an en-suite and whether it comes with meals provided can all add to the cost.
How do students pay for accommodation?
Most students use their loan to cover their accommodation costs.
You can usually set up a Direct Debit with whoever provides your accommodation, so the right amount will come out of your account each month.
Does student finance affect Universal Credit?
The part of your loan that covers your tuition won't affect your Universal Credit.
However, the maintenance part of your loan will affect how much Universal Credit you get. That's the part of your loan you can use for whatever you like, but usually for things like accommodation and living costs.
Once you’re at university
You might suddenly feel like there's loads to pay for and you're trying not to spend all your cash at once. So you'll need to make your money last. Here are a few ways to make it go a little further.
Budgeting whilst you’re at uni
Why is this so important? Because it can help you keep track of your spending and make sure you don't run out of money or get into too much debt.
Work out how much money you've got coming in and how much you'll be spending. Then you'll know how much you've got left. You can even set aside different amounts for things like bills, food, transport, study materials and fun stuff.
If your student bank account includes an interest-free arranged overdraft, you can include that in your budgeting if you need to. And remember to budget for your uni holidays too.
If you haven't made a budget yet, read Save The Student's budget planner (opens in a new window).
Average student living costs
Rent and food are generally the most expensive costs you'll have at university. But how much you spend each week depends on where you're studying. Some places will be pricier than others.
Save money with student discounts and vouchers
There are tons of discounts especially for students.
TOTUM gives you access to loads of student discounts and offers. It used to be called NUS extra. It could help you save money on all kinds of things. From clothes and music, to health and fitness.
Make the most of your food shop
Don't fancy living off beans on toast? Some good ways to save money on food include:
- making a meal plan for the week
- only buying what you need
- cooking a big batch of food, then freezing some for another day
- shopping and cooking with your housemates
- taking packed lunches to uni instead of going to the café every day
- keeping an eye out for those yellow-sticker reduced items at the supermarket, and
- using coupons and discount vouchers.
Getting help with money while you study
What if my student loan doesn’t cover everything I need?
It's important to ask for financial support if you need it. That way, you won't end up in more debt than you need to. That support could be:
- advice on how to budget
- getting some extra work, or
- seeing if someone close to you can help.
Contact your university's student support team if you need help or advice. And if times get really tough, you might also be able to apply for the government's hardship loan (opens in a new window).
Save The Student is a money advice website for students studying in the UK. You can read lots of guidance on their website (opens in a new window).
And, if you choose to bank with us, don't hesitate to pop into a Nationwide branch if you'd like to talk to someone face to face. Find your nearest Nationwide branch.
Repaying your student loan
When do I need to pay off my student loan?
Don't panic, there's no rush. Student loans are loans, but in practice they work more like a tax. A tax of 9% that you pay when you earn over a certain amount.
The government sets the thresholds for when you'll have to start repaying your loan (opens in a new window).
You can also find out more about repayment with Save The Student's student loan repayment guide (opens in a new window).
Can I pay off my student loan early?
You can pay your student loan off early by making extra repayments. These extra repayments would be in addition to the repayments you have to make when you earn over a certain amount. More on repaying your student loan early (opens in a new window).
It's worth considering whether you should make extra repayments though. And remember, the government will eventually wipe off your debt. When this will happen depends on your repayment plan. Find out when your student debt will be written off (opens in new window).