If you’re planning on applying for university this year, you’re probably already starting to think about the financial side of things.
In this post, we’ll explain what your student loan covers. We’ll also discuss the differences between student loans and tuition fees, and explore a few budgeting tips for when you start uni.
What Do Tuition Fees Cover?
Universities and colleges charge tuition fees to cover the key elements of your course, as well as certain student services. Normally, tuition fees cover:
- Course admin costs, as well as the costs of your lectures, seminars and tutorials.
- Access to campus libraries and computer rooms, as well as access to course-specific facilities and equipment, such as laboratories.
- Your student union membership, and your student support services.
- Your graduation ceremony.
What Don’t Tuition Fees Cover?
There’s a few costs you’ll be expected to cover yourself, such as your textbooks and stationery, any supplies you need for your course, your printing and photocopying etc.
And crucially, you’ll also have to cover your own living costs, including your accommodation and travel.
Types of Student Loans
There are two main types of student loan:
Tuition Fee Loan
This will cover the full cost of your course. You won’t receive this money yourself. Instead, The Student Loans Company will pay it directly to your course provider. You won’t have to pay this loan back until after you graduate, and until you’re earning above a certain level.
You can apply for a maintenance loan at the same time as you apply for a Tuition Fee Loan. The amount you get will depend on a few factors, including your household income, where you live, where you plan to study, and how long you’ll be studying for. In England, Northern Ireland and Wales, you’ll get your loan payments at the start of each term. But in Scotland you’ll get payments once a month.
Beyond these two student loans, you might also be eligible for certain student grants.
What Does a Maintenance Loan Cover?
A maintenance loan covers everything else so your day to day living costs like accommodation, transport, food, and books. The maintenance loan is unlikely to cover all of your living costs outright. You may have to make up the shortfall yourself, through getting a part-time job or getting financial support from your parents or guardian – or a mixture of the two.
Alternatively, you can get extra financial help through applying for a scholarship, grant, or bursary.
Does a Student Loan Cover Accommodation?
The maintenance loan, is paid into your own bank account at the start of each term if you’re studying in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, or once a month if you’re studying in Scotland.
As the money’s paid directly into your account, it’s completely up to you as to how you spend it, but most students use their maintenance loan to pay towards their accommodation.
Managing Your Maintenance Loan
For many students, getting a maintenance loan payment will be the first time they would have ever received a large sum of money just for themselves.
But remember two key things:
- This isn’t free money! You will have to pay it back eventually.
- This money is to help you with the cost of living. You need to take care of the essentials before you spend any money on anything else.
Essential Budgeting For Students
UCAS has a comprehensive guide to money management for students on their site. Managing a budget can be daunting if you’ve never done it before, ultimately you might find that taking care of your money is straightforward:
- Work out the overall cost of your essentials. This includes your accommodation costs, your utility and bills if not included with your accommodation, travel costs, and an average weekly cost for food and drink.
- Once you have this sum, subtract it from your total maintenance loan amount. And having done this, subtract another 20% or so for emergencies, and for course essentials like textbooks and printing.
- Technically, you can spend whatever remains on whatever you like. But remember that this money is going to have to last you! So think about all the possible expenses you might incur – whether on a weekly basis or a monthly basis – to establish your budget.
Money Saving Tips For Students
Once you have your weekly or monthly budget, it should be easy to work out just how far your maintenance loan payments will take you. And if at this point it seems like you’re going to struggle, there are a few things you can consider:
- Cut down on a few expenses. For example, you could cook for yourself more instead of eating out or getting takeaways. Shop at the more affordable supermarkets, and look for the sort of recipes that will allow you to make batches of food that could last you through the week.
- Buy second hand wherever you can – whether that’s your course materials or your clothes.
- Consider getting a part time job. But bear in mind that some universities set rules for the sort of work students can do.
- See if there are any scholarships, grants or bursaries you can apply for.
Are You Taking a Car to University?
A car can be a great asset for students. You might find it easier (and safer) to drive than to take public transport. A car also makes it easier to get to and from home, and it also means you and your friends can enjoy some unforgettable road trips.
But owning a car costs a lot of money. You’ll have to think about ongoing running costs, including parking, maintenance, and fuel. And you’ll also have to think about car insurance.
At Go Girl, we specialise in affordable car insurance for students. We understand how hard it can be to make every penny count at uni, so we’re committed to giving you the cover you need at a price you can afford.