STUDY HOW TO STAY OUT
OF THE RED
Money. Cash. Wedge. It
makes the world go round.
It also makes students
miserable – or a lack of it
does, anyway. At times it
can seem, as Mick Hucknall
sang, just too tight to
mention. But with autumn
term about to start, the last
thing you want is for cash
concerns to spoil your
college or university years.
Tim Relf hears a few tips
on staying solvent
IT used to be so simple: Turn up at college, collect your grant and start spending.
But, apart from some means-tested tuition fees, there will be no grants for most students starting this autumn. Which means that, unless you have got generous parents, the money you spend will have to be paid back. It might be to the Student Loans Company, it might be to the bank but both – somewhat infuriatingly – will want it back sooner or later.
"Previous generations may have seen university as a passport to fun and freedom, but present sixth formers see only a future of worries over money and workload," says Andrew Thomas, student services manager at NatWest.
A few simple steps can help ease these worries. First, make a budget, advises Mr Thomas. "This can nip money worries in the bud." It has to be realistic, though. A recent NatWest survey showed that school-leavers expected to pay £76 a month less on rent than the actual amount. "It shows how a miscalculation in the early stages can soon spiral into real money worries for students."
Sticking to the budget can prove to be more difficult than making it in the first place. "Withdrawals at 2am on Saturday morning can come back to haunt you." It demands discipline and a close eye to be kept on bank statements. "Do not just bury them under your mattress."
More students also now have to earn while they learn, taking part-time work in term as well as vacation jobs. "But you have to be careful it doesnt affect your studies.
"If you have nice, generous parents, a phone call every now and then can help," adds Mr Thomas.
And should you get in trouble, speak to the college welfare officer about hardship loans and access funds – from which money may be available free or at cheap interest rates.
* Every little helps
Ian Stockley, head of agricultural services at Lloyds TSB, advises looking to industry and charities for money. "It is not a case of a queue of people waiting to give you money, but it should be fully explored. The more effort you put in, the more you are likely to benefit. Every little helps, especially these days when the blanket support is not there."
Shop around and compare what different banks offer when opening an account, says Mr Stockley. Students might like independence, but there may be benefits from banking where there are family connections, he says. "Keep borrowing to recognised High Street lenders."
If you antici
pate money problems, talk to your bank. "You will have time to do something about it then, rather than having to do a fire-brigade job."
* Have some fun
Wye College student Michael Brown says: "Be sensible and be sharp with your money, but dont spend all your time worrying about it. Dont let it ruin your life and dont let it stop you having fun."
But beware the perils of over-borrowing, he says. "It is so easy to get hold of money. I question whether the banks should be so willing to let students run up overdrafts."
Ian Robson, student welfare officer at Harper Adams, says graduates can expect to notch up about £10,000 of debt. Ag students, however, have good holiday work opportunities, with stacks of overtime. "Someone studying psychology in Manchester wont go out lambing at Easter."
Remember, too, your first job will probably pay £14,000 to £16,000, about £5000 more than if you did not have a degree. This differential could rise as you get older, says Mr Thomas.
Besides, you rarely meet anyone that regrets going to college or uni. "You have definitely got to go," says Simon Thelwell, who graduated from Harper Adams two years ago. "You will seriously regret it in the long-run if you do not.
"It will mean an enhanced career path, and it is serious amounts of fun, too."
What it costs to be a student (based on 38-week period)
Tuition fees 1,025
Source: National Union of Students.
Academic year 1999/2000.
For students outside London.
Lines to try on mum and dad:
• I need it for books.
• Just think how much Ill be earning in a few years time.
• I will keep you in your old age.
• Youll get it back.
Lines not to try on mum and dad:
• I need it for booze.
• Ill get it sooner or later anyway.
• Youll have to do some more overtime then, wont you.
• Cant you sell some land.
• Ill accept a cheque.
• Eat in – dont take away.
• Claim all NUS discounts.
• Ask for birthday and Christmas presents in cash.
• Ditch the mobile.
• Beware store cards.
• Marry rich.
• Check out the charity shops for latest fashions.