November 22, 2018

University doesn’t have to break the bank

Whether you’re an A-Level student, a professional looking for a career change or a mature student planning on getting some extra qualifications, the cost of university will be on your mind. But it’s not something you should worry too much about because it could be more affordable than you think.

Whilst there is a cost to university, it doesn’t have to be prohibitive. With some careful planning and budget management you can still get a degree without being saddled with crippling debt. And besides, graduates tend to earn around £10,000 a year more than non-graduates so not only will you be able to quickly pay off any debt but the cost of your degree compared to the benefits it gives you during the course of your working life make it more than worth it.

How to save for university

If you’re thinking about going to university it pays to start planning early, particularly from a financial point of view.

Working part-time when you’re still at college and limiting your nights out with friends could allow you to put aside several thousands of pounds before you start your degree. If you’re already working but plan to go back to education, cutting back on luxuries and saving as much money as possible to cover the time when you’ll be studying is a good idea.

You can use a university budget planner to work out exactly how much money you’ll need for tuition, rent, books, socialising and other associated living costs each week. Be honest about the kinds of things you will be spending money on and be prepared to cut back in some areas if you want to make savings. Once you have a budget in mind you’ll have an idea of how far any money you’ve already managed to accumulate will stretch.

When you actually start studying it’s vital to monitor your spending and make sure you’re sticking to your university student budget, adjusting it if you need to.

Student loans and grants

You can apply for help to cover the costs of your fees and you may also be entitled to extra help with childcare or if you have an adult dependent or a child with a disability. Loans do eventually have to be repaid but the upside with these types of loan is they’re often very low interest and you don’t have to start repaying them until after you graduate and you’re earning over a certain amount. In addition, when you do start to pay them back, it’s only 9% on any earnings above the threshold, not your entire salary.

The tuition fees at GSM London are lower than other institutions with fees around £6,000 a year compared to £9,000 at some universities, which will also have an effect on how much you need to borrow.

In addition, you may be able to apply for means-tested maintenance loans which will help with living costs during your time studying. Again these do eventually have to be paid back as well but under the same terms as tuition fee loans.

Accelerated two-year degrees 

Opting for a two-year degree instead of three can help save on costs. At GSM London, you can undertake a traditional degree in two years instead of three but still graduate with the same high quality qualification. Fees are slightly more at £8,000 per year instead of £6,000 and you’ll have to work hard but that still adds up to a saving of at least £2,000 on fees. Plus, you’ll have a whole year’s less of living expenses to worry about which can work out at around £6,400 each academic year. You’ll also be able to start your career much earlier than your contemporaries on a three-year course.

Working while at university

If you’re confident you can cope with the workload, taking on a part-time job while at university can also ease the financial burden. A few hours each week can really make a dent in your living costs and will also look good on your CV, particularly if you can find work related to your degree.

Making your money go further at university 

Once you’re at university there are plenty of things you can do to make your money go further:

  • Lots of companies offer student discounts so it’s worth signing up to them. You can even get money off travel with rail cards and bus discounts.
  • Buy second hand books for your studies.
  • Take advantage of any cash back or loyalty schemes.
  • Choose a bank account that gives you preferential rates or even a 0% overdraft. Lots of banks now offer cash or other incentives to get you to sign up.

We would like to hear from you if you’re thinking of going to university and keen to know how to plan financially for it. You can call us on 020 3797 468 or find out more here.

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