If you are a home student, when you receive your loan the first thing you may think you’ve just got rich!
Think again. University can be an expensive place, particularly in London. Even if you are an international student you may start the year with a big stash of cash in your bank account. The good news is that with forward-thinking it’s actually quite easy to manage your debt.
1. Divide your loan and any additional income you receive into monthly budgets
2. Work out your essential buys each month (e.g. rent, food, bills and transport.)
3. Give yourself an allowance for unexpected costs such as expensive study pack, replacing lost items etc. (which always crop up when you least expect!)
4. Subtract these from your monthly budget
5. Work out how much you have left! If there isn’t any – look back over your budgets REALISTICALLY. If you cannot make any cuts, look for a job! Most of us have to!
Expect it! Do not rely on credit cards. They make money off your debt! You will already be building a substantial debt to the Student Loans Company, particularly with the new top up fees. The interest on credit cards is a nightmare! If you don’t control your debts early on, credit card bills will probably plague you for years to come.
We have negotiated that your SOAS ID card will double as your NUS card. It’s always worth asking for discounts at local shops, cafes, restaurants and bars. You can also buy an NUS Extra card for £11 online
(+£1.99 to add ISIC, for international use). Go to www.nus.org.uk/nus-extra.
Squatting & Skipping - A really Free Education:
Most undergraduate students in central London will need an additional income. Take advantage of studying in this exciting city and find a part-time job to match! The trick is to balance it with studying. Good time management means that a decent 2:1 or even a 1st is still possible.
Visit the Careers Office in room G9 (Russell Square) or visit http://www.careers.lon.ac.uk/output/Page19.asp for help and advice. They are also the people to see about sorting out your CV for when you leave, and to get summer jobs and other forms of funding for further study. Its worth getting a good relationship with the careers service early on.
Social Security Benefits
Home/ EU students with disabilities or with children and part time students, may be entitled to certain social security benefits so this is worth checking out with your local JobCentre Plus office. That said, the current government are slashing them left, right and centre and there are very few that students are able to get. The SOAS Welfare Office may also be able to help.
If you are a home undergraduate student then on the day you enrol, SOAS will inform the Student Loan Company that you are now a student, and your student loan will be released. It should be in your bank for you to use, 3 days later. If you applied late or your loan is held up for some other reason and you run out of money then the Welfare Advisers may be able to help you. There was a terrible problem last year with loans though, some not turning up for a couple of months – so be ready to take all your details to SOAS if you want to survive!
International students and all postgraduates must make their own arrangements to cover their expenses through loans, sponsorship, savings or money from family. Remember, the school expects fees for the year to be paid in full when you enrol. We are working on them puitting in a fees by installments policy, but it won’t happen in time for this year,.
Home students: Student bank accounts often have enticing offers! Remember though, you will probably stick with the bank for a long time so check the interest rates, overdraft facilities (and graduate conditions!). Though it’s a long way off, when you’re in 3 or 4 years worth of debt, it’s helpful to have an interest free graduate overdraft to tide you over!
International students: The accounts available for you are more restrictive and dont offer free gifts and overdrafts. To open an account you need your passport and a letter from SOAS confirming your student status, home and UK addresses. Request the letter on the day you enrol. Some banks want more documents. The Welfare Office offers information on banking for Overseas Students. Visit www.soas.ac.uk/welfare/international/banking/
The School’s Welfare Office does have some extra money in the form of hardship funds to offer students in dire need. You will need to show that you really are under the breadline to obtain it. Most of this money is aimed at home students, though there can be small grants to overseas students, who are in hardship due to unexpected exceptional costs. Nevertheless if you are in difficulty the School’s Welfare Advisers are very good people to talk to about ways you might improve your financial situation. The Welfare Office is in Vernon Square : see the Advice & Wellbeing page:
Turn2us is a free service that helps people in financial need to access welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help – online, by phone and face to face through our partner organisations.Turn2us is a free service that helps people in financial need to access welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help – online, by phone and face to face through our partner organisations. http://www.turn2us.org.uk/