In theory, student loans are a fantastic idea. Free money from the government, right?* However, they’re not so great for everyone – for some people they barely even cover rent, whereas for others they can be enough to survive an entire year. Here are some ways to make your money go further if you’re one of the unlucky ones.
*Disclaimer: student loans are not free money, you will probably have to pay it back eventually. Sorry.
- Look for cheaper rent. Whether you’re looking for halls or a house, look for a cheaper option. Obviously I’m not suggesting live in squalor like some student digs can be, but look for somewhere which will allow you to save a little bit. For a slightly smaller room, that extra £50 a month can make a huge difference.
- Shop locally if you can. A lot of towns and cities will have somewhere with a market of some sort where you can buy fruit and veg for cheap, generally in large quantities. This will not only help you stretch your loan out, but help counteract all the calories you’re consuming from that fourth vodka and lemonade.Alternatively, places like Aldi and Lidl are great to stock up in bulk on items like rice and pasta which are non-perishable and pretty cheap.
- Apply for bursaries and scholarships. Each uni will have individual guidelines on who is eligible, but it’s worth a look to see if there’s any extra help available.
- Try and budget as early as possible. It sucks, but budgeting is the easiest way to make sure you don’t overspend money that you don’t have. Also try and make sure your rent is paid as soon as your loan comes in – that’s the most important thing and if you pay it as soon as possible, you can’t accidentally spend the money you need for it.
- Look for bargains and discounts. A huge number of shops offer student discount, and a lot of the time you don’t even need to pay for an NUS card – some shops will accept your regular student card, though this is dependent on nice staff and local traders.
- Look for a part-time job. If you’re really strapped for cash, looking for extra income is a good shout if you can feasibly fit it in around studying.
- Get a railcard. If you don’t drive or it’s easier to get the train home, pick up a 16-25 railcard. It costs £30 per year or £70 for three years and you can save up to a third on train tickets.