If you prepare and plan your student budget it can make life a lot easier. Here's some advice and resources, as well as information on other external sources of income; educational trusts and charities, and benefits.

Once you have got a handle on the funding that you might be able to get to help you through your studies, it is important to start thinking about what you’ll need to spend it on, and how far it will actually stretch. No one is going to tell you what you should or shouldn't spend your money on – that is up to you.

This page offers advice and guidance that can help you make the right choice for you and your family.

Our top 10 money tips

Find the best student bank account for you

Don't be afraid to switch bank accounts - shop around! There are lots of great deals out there including interest-free overdrafts, railcards, and more. Money Saving Expert have a great guide on student bank accounts.

Use your student card for discounts

Loads of shops and restaurants give discounts to students. Always ask! You could also buy an NUS Extra card for additional saving.

Make sure you aren't paying too much tax

Students are often on the wrong tax code and don't realise! You might be due a refund. Check with the Jobshop at Careers or call HMRC.

Don't go too crazy in the first few weeks

When you get your loan instalment it is tempting to go on a big shop! Most people will never have received so much money in one go before. Think before you spend - make a list of all the important things you need to use the money for first (rent, food, transport, utility bills) and then see if you have some leftover. You can find budgeting advice online on Brightside's Student Calculator website.

Buy a bus pass

If you take the bus each day then it is defnitely worth buying a termly or monthly bus pass. Paying for a return ticket each day will soon add up.

Get a job sooner rather than later

The Careers Service have a great Jobshop and can give you loads of advice on job hunting, applications, and CVs. Most students work part-time throughout their studies and it is a great way to get more work experience.

Cook at home

Takeaways and eating out can be expensive. We all deserve a treat now and then, but day-to-day it is unrealistic to eat out all the time or order takeaway every day! Most people will bring their own lunch to Uni to save money. Also think about cooking at home and with flatmates, it means you can buy in bulk and save money, and leftovers are perfect for the next day! You can find cheap recipe ideas online.

Use the library or buy secondhand

You don't need brand new books. If you haven't found the library yet then you're missing out. Most courses will have set books that are available for free in the library or via an online journal. You could also buy secondhand books online. There's no point spending £100s on books just for one term!

Avoid credit cards and never use a payday loan

If you can avoid it we would not recommend using a credit card while studying. There are some good deals out there but you need to investigate fully and understand what you're signing up to!

Payday loans are even worse than credit cards and can charge high interest rates and therefore cause you loads of problems. You could end up paying back double what you borrowed! Student Support have a short term loan scheme (interest-free) as an alternative.

Don't be afraid to admit if you're struggling

If you think you might struggle whilst at Uni then come and ask someone! The sooner you act the sooner you might be able to resolve any worries you have. Student Support are open all year round to give you confidential advice and guidance.

Educational trusts and charities

What are they?

In addition to the various options for financial support provided by the Government and University, there are Educational Trusts and Charities that may be able to offer you further funding.

There are many trust and charity organisations who have a wide range of criteria that may be able to offer non-repayable financial assistance, depending on your personal circumstances.

Making an application

  • Not all charities will be relevant to your situation, try to pick the charities that you feel best suit your circumstances and need
  • Try to tailor your application to the charity you are applying to, avoid a one letter fits all approach; Welfare can offer you guidance on this
  • Speak to your tutor to get an academic reference which will give the provider an indication of how you are progressing on your course
  • Get a letter from the Student Money Advisor supporting your application and to reassure the provider that your application is part of a financial action plan

Use this trust and charity application example letter to help you prepare your own.

Student Support can help you with your applications - please contact them for an appointment.

What trusts and charities are there?

  • The Leverhulme Trade Charities: Offers annual bursaries of up to £3,000 a year if you fit their criteria.
  • Wiltshire Community Foundation: Scholarship Grants are open to young people from Wiltshire and Swindon who are under 25 and are about to start or are currently enrolled on an Undergraduate Degree course at a UK university. The average amount of award is around £2,000 per annum – but depends on personal circumstances.
  • EDF Energy Trust: Awards grants to people who need help with their energy bills and other essential household costs. Gas and/or electric must be supplied by either SWEB Energy, Virgin Home Energy, Seeboard Energy, London Energy.
  • The Elizabeth Nuffield Educational Fund (ENEF): May be able to help you with the cost of your child care or family care.
  • Scholarship Search: This is a useful site to help you find scholarships
  • Hockerill Educational Foundation: The Hockerill Educational Foundation invites applications for grants (usually £500 - £1000 p.a.) to teachers in training who have particular financial difficulties.
  • Student Cash Point: Student Cash Point is a FREE website designed to help students like you find the funding you need to cover the costs of going to college and university.
  • BAHSHE: Students must apply for a Disabled Students Allowance if eligible. Grants are given for items of equipment to aid study such as computers and software; in addition contributions may also be made to extra travel costs, cost of a helper/notetaker, extra books or photocopying.
  • Student Health Association: The fund helps students with disabilities to keep up with their studies. Students must be involved in higher education on a full-time or nearly full-time basis. Students must have applied for Disabled Students' Allowances if eligible. Maximum amount of each award is £500.
  • Snowdon Trust:  If you have a physical or sensory disability and are in post-16 education, you can apply for help with additional disability-related costs that are not fully provided for you from available statutory funding.
  • Turn2Us: Charitable grant search website
  • Curo Scholarship: Anyone who lives in a Curo property is eligible to apply for this £9,000 scholarship. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to an interview in the spring of the year the course is due to start.

Government benefits

Full-time students

Full time students cannot usually claim benefits.  In general, students are expected to receive support via the statutory student funding system, such as student loans and grants.

However, if you are a full-time student, you may be entitled to claim benefits throughout the year or for a limited period if you are a:

  • Lone parent
  • Student with disabilities (in receipt of PIP/DLA)
  • Single person with foster children
  • Refugee
  • Partner of another full time student and you have responsibility for a child(ren)
  • Partner of a non-student if they satisfy the individual conditions of entitlement

Part-time students

Part-time students may be able to claim benefits if they meet the basic rules of entitlement, contact your local benefits office for further details.

Useful websites

You can check your entitlement to any benefits on the Turn2Us website.

For further information, please visit www.gov.uk website.

If you are concerned or have any queries about any possible benefit entitlement, please contact Student Support.

Council tax

Full-time students do not pay Council Tax. Find out more at Gov.uk

Part-time students are liable to pay Council Tax. You might get a discount if you qualify. Find out more at Gov.uk

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