Starting university is an exciting and nerve racking experience. Like many other new students, I gladly signed up for a Santander student account, being drawn in by the free railcard and the interest free £2000 arranged overdraft. That was now 5 years ago and throughout my studies I have rarely managed to get out of that overdraft even when undertaking a paid work placement in my 4th year. For a growing number of students in their final year at university, graduate jobs are becoming harder to come by, making the overdraft incurred throughout their studies extremely difficult to pay off. As with any young professional after university study, their minds quickly turn to thinking about their future career, buying a house and ‘settling down’. Due to the increasing housing costs and high deposits required to get on the property ladder, already having a £2000 overdraft debt can make saving for a deposit an unachievable target for many young people.
Being from the student cohort who has studied throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, there has also been many financial challenges bought upon us. Personally, having a private landlord who has been dismissive of refunding any part of our rent whilst the house has been sitting empty, has been extremely frustrating. Although, the landlord is within their legal right to continue rent payments, a constant £300 payment every month for an accommodation we cannot stay in has certainty kept me well within my arranged overdraft. An important tip that can help with financing university is keeping up to date with support that is given from the university itself. For example, I received an email into my ‘unimportant’ email folder around 4 weeks ago that I didn’t acknowledge and ignored. It was only 2 weeks later when a friend notified me that we could apply and were eligible for the ‘Covid support fund’. From the application, I have received a lump sum of £300 to support my ongoing rent payments. If I had not been aware of this, I would have missed the deadline and wouldn’t have known I was eligible. So for new students, make sure to constantly check emails and communications from your institution as there are various different support funds available, it just takes a bit of time to research which ones are applicable.
Another tip that I would recommend is, if possible, taking the highest maintenance loan possible. Due to the structure of student finance, you will only pay this back if you earn over a certain amount post-graduation, which can lower reliance on overdrafts which can negatively affect your future credit score if not payed back on time. Also, there are government savings schemes such as a ‘lifetime ISA’ which will give you a guaranteed 25% on all money saved for a future house and the earlier you start saving, the more money you are eligible for. I am also aware, that most students will not have the funds to be saving throughout uni but if this is possible, a lifetime ISA is a good investment.