Sunday, November 18, 2007

Guide to student banking and finance - part 2 of 2

No matter what your chosen subject may be, for many students it makes sense to become financially savvy. At university budgeting will be tight and you will have to learn quickly about juggling daily expenses with household bills and income from loans. Just like with an exam, revision is the key. If you know what you're getting into you'll produce better results. Learning about student current accounts, student loans, student credit cards and to be wary of consolidating student loans will help your cause.

To make student life easier it's necessary to think beyond your student loan and be prepared to go that extra mile to improve your income and cut your costs.

Student Loans

Perhaps the easiest way to help your budget is to increase your income through a student loan. Students can defer payments on the £3,000/year tuition fee until they are earning £15,000/year in employment through a tuition fee loan with the Student Loans Company. For more details contact your local authority.

In addition, student loans are available to assist with living and study expenses. These usually amount to about £1,250/term. Again the loans do not have to be paid back until you are earning £15,000/year but this does not mean you should treat the loans with anything but respect. Remember their purpose and be careful not to spend excessively on unnecessary items as soon as you receive the loan. It has to last you for the course of the term and ultimately you have to pay it back.

Where to go for help with debt or finance

Hopefully by reading the guide to student banking and finance you'll have learned the importance of a budget, useful ways to save and add to your income. However, we realise that the more help and advice you can get the better, which is why we have compiled a list of useful contacts for you to consider.

The first stop for help should be your student union representative. They will be able to deal with your needs directly and offer advice. However, there are many additional outside sources to consider:

  • DfEs - The Department for Education and skills offers student support.
  • LEAs - For a full list of local education authorities.
  • Student Loan Company - All you need to know about student loans.
  • Support for Learning - Information on money management and student loans.

Ways to save

Take advantage of every offer available on the things you need. Whether it's two-for-one at the local supermarket, cutting out coupons, or sticking to reduced rate 'student nights' at the local bars, every penny counts - especially when a tin of baked beans can cost as little as 9p! can help your cause with our price comparison tools that help you find the best deal available on numerous products:

  • Car insurance - Running a car is expensive at the best of times and at university it is probably best to stick to local transport wherever possible. However, if you have a car already you need to get the best deals available. With younger drivers making more claims than their more experienced counterparts premiums are high, but many companies now offer young drivers car insurance with flexible payment options. Consider having a parent as a named driver and read our car insurance guide for ways to further cut your premium and get cheap car insurance.
  • Travel insurance - Specific policies are now available for those who plan to take a gap year. Read our travel insurance guide for more. You can also use for cheap flights and hotels.
  • Student banking/current accounts - These generally have interest-free overdraft facilities, a student adviser service, incentives such as gift vouchers and some accounts could pay interest on credit balance and offer a credit card.
  • Savings accounts - If you can start saving a few pounds here and there, make sure you're getting the best interest rate.
  • Student credit card - A credit card should be a last resort, however if you find it necessary to take one out seek advice and use the comparison tool at for the best deal. Remember however, that failing to meet payments on loans and credit cards can seriously damage your credit rating. If your debts are already out of hand contact the Citizen's Advice Bureau immediately.
  • Bank loans for students - If you are looking for a loan or to consolidate other loans the best rates can be compared on However, most students will find it difficult to benefit from the best rates because of their circumstances and credit profile.

The price comparison tools can also be used to find the best deals on home insurance (including insurance for rented and/or shared accommodation) gas and electricity and mobile phones, all of which could offer vital savings. Credit cards, loans and mortgages become more relevant after you graduate but it is useful to stay aware of market changes. Remember to set up bills on direct debit to reduce monthly payments and avoid big bills when you can't cope with large payments.

Hopefully you now feel well-equipped to deal with the issues of student finance. Remember at all times that help is available and you're not alone - millions are coping and you can too.

Good luck with your studies and enjoy university life!


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