Studying at university is challenging enough without financial concerns adding another layer of worry. Maintenance grants and other student finance can be a big help, but tuition fees are on the up and families don’t always have money in reserve to make up funding shortfalls for would-be uni students having a run at higher education.
Whether you’re still on the sidelines, preparing to take the plunge, or actively working toward a college degree, money problems are not breaking news for uni students. On the contrary, college kids are used to living frugally whilst earning an education. And since you’re not the first to navigate financial challenges while you’re away at school, creative students have already worked out money saving hacks and tricks you can use to keep costs under control during school.
Get Help as Soon as Possible
There’s no shame facing-up to financial difficulties whilst attending university. Countless students have walked the same path, ultimately sorting out money matters and earning college credentials. If you do experience financial problems during school, it’s important to address them in real time, before the issues grow unmanageable.
Despite feeling helpless about your school finances, most financial issues can be resolved, without sacrificing your education. The longer you wait, however, the more time there is for your money problems to multiply. Seeking guidance from money charities and trusted family members can help you through a crisis. And when you’re ready to reinforce your finance skills, several sources offer helpful insight.
Among the resources available for students tackling money issues, the National Association of Student Money Advisors (NASMA) provides advice at colleges and universities across the UK. In addition to connecting troubled students with financial advisors, the organisation also publishes a periodical magazine, featuring tips and tactics for affordable college living.
Plan a Budget
In much the same way a well-organised budget can save household finances from monetary crises, planning for expenditures can also reinforce your financial health whilst you study at university. Each student’s financial outlook is unique, but the basics of budgeting can be applied to most financial situations.
At its core, a student budget essentially balances your projected income with anticipated expenses, during a particular period (term, year, etc.). Although it can be easier said than done, planning for your costs of living during school ensures you’re not caught out, whilst focused on your studies. In addition to routine expense such as bills, food, and housing, your budget should also capture the cost of extras, like gifts and travel.
If you’re unsure where to draw the line on college spending, the National Union of Students (NUS) compiles figures representing average student spending in various college categories. The resource may not exactly reflect your financial commitments, but it is nonetheless useful for comparative purposes. Financial resources are also available for employed students and their working parents, providing fast online loans for bad credit applicants.
Increase Your Income
Maintaining your priorities during school can help you stay on track toward graduation. As much as you’d welcome the income, full-time work isn’t typically possible for uni students with full class schedules. Fortunately, part-time jobs and other income opportunities may be enough to create sufficient cash flow for your student spending needs. When time is tight, yet your income needs a boost, consider these possibilities for increasing income during school:
Grants – Dozens of charities and education trusts offer grants for earning degrees. If you haven’t yet explored all the potential for “free” money, it may be worth devoting time to research funding opportunities. For the best chance of bringing home university grants, start with organisations to which you are already connected. Religious groups, trade associations, employers in your field, and local civic organisations are all good places to uncover money for school.
Discretionary Hardship Funds – Institutions of higher learning maintain discretionary hardship funding, reserved for students needing help meeting their financial obligations whilst enrolled. Sometimes called Contingency Funds and Access to Learning Funds, the discretionary resources aim to increase access to higher education with grants and short-term loans.
Part-time Work – Whether you’re fortunate enough to land a job through your university or instead find work off campus, part-time jobs are the life blood of student financing. Maintaining proper balance is essential – working too many hours risks losing sight of your studies, which is contrary to the cause, when you’re getting an education.
With tuition climbing higher and less money available for students of higher education, creative college families use these and other tactics to manage financial resources and stretch their money during school.