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Five finance pitfalls to avoid in your first term of university

9th August 2016

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Going to university is the opportunity of a lifetime and you will be keen to throw yourself into everything there is to offer.

However, every experience sadly has a price and the risk of running out of money can suddenly become very real when you manage your finances haphazardly.

Anne Chawk, a Senior Student Finance Adviser at the University of Bedfordshire, lists five common pitfalls to avoid.

  1. Plan for high upfront costs
Starting university brings a number of upfront costs that can eat into your student loan quickly. Deposits on rental properties, hall accommodation fees, down-payments on travel season tickets and buying core text books can all make a dent in your finances. Plan for this with some sort of financial cushion, either from income gained from paid work over summer or with an attractive interest free overdraft that comes with most student bank accounts.

  1. Don’t miss your enrolment appointment!
Enrolment is a key date in getting your finances sorted. The Student Loans Company will only authorise payment of the first instalment of your loan once you have enrolled. It is vitally important that you make your enrolment appointment – remembering to bring any required documentation with you – as putting this back could delay the payment of your loan by a number of days. It’s always worth taking enough cash to tide you over for the first few days of university just in case your loan payment is delayed for any reason. This is very rare,but if it does happen your university will be more than happy to check over all of your paperwork and liaise with the Student Loans Company to get it sorted quickly.

  1. Check you are getting all the money you are entitled to
In addition to student loans, a range of means-tested support grants are available from the Government, for single parents or those with adult dependents, for example. Your university may additionally offer a number of bursary or scholarship schemes that you may be eligible for. For instance, the University of Bedfordshire offers a welcome package giving eligible students £300 towards the costs of purchasing core text books in their first year of study, which can really help take some of the financial pressure off in the first term. Remember that many of these grants can be applied for retrospectively, so it’s worth double checking what support is available to you when you arrive at university

  1. Avoid payday loans
From time to time you may find yourself a little bit short of cash. At this point it can be tempting to take out a payday loan to see you through the shortfall. However, payday loans are an exceptionally dangerous way of borrowing money. As they are aimed at people with regular income can be an expensive game to play for students waiting until January for an additional loan payment. If you find yourself in debt, it’s best to speak to your university, who may be able to assist you to spread the cost of studying or provide a debt repayment plan to help you put your finances back together.

  1. Go easy at Christmas time
You’ve made it through your first term at university, congratulations! With Black Friday and Christmas sales everywhere it can be tempting to treat yourself to a few things, but with the cost of presents for friends and families too, December can quickly turn into a rather expensive month. While it’s nice to buy gifts it’s important to watch your credit card balance and make sure you can pay this off in a reasonable time frame. Considering hand-made gifts for your family and asking for vouchers as presents from others can help make January a bit more friendly on your finances and your return to university free from money worries!

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