Student Finance & Money Ultimate Guide

Money is one of the biggest problems that most students face. Trying to buy food, pay rent, and maintain a decent social life can be extremely damaging to your wallet. This section offers some general tips and tricks to keep your bank balance positive this year, from sorting out your student finance to getting a part-time job!

What is Student Finance?

Before even going to university, you should have sorted your student finance loans. Most students in the UK take out Student Finance to pay for their university course (Tuition Fee Loan) and their living / accommodation costs (Maintenance Fee Loan). These can be up to £9250 / year for Tuition Fees, and up to £11,600 for Maintenance Fees, depending on where you go to university and your family household income.

The Tuition Fee Loan money is never seen by the student, it is paid directly to your university. The Maintenance Fees, on the other hand, are paid in instalments in September, January, and April to the student. In terms of paying these loans back, you have to be earning at least £25,725. Once you earn above this, repayments will be taken out of your salary.

It is important to budget your maintenance fees as you are only payed 3 times per year. You need to work out how much your ‘fixed costs’ will be, such as your accommodation, and ensure you have enough of your maintenance loan saved so that you can pay your rent each month. Once this money is set aside, you can have a better of idea of how many nights out, takeaways, and Frappuccinos you can get each month.

If you want to find out more about Student Finance, visit our friends at Future Finance, or see the official government website.

How to Save Money at Uni

Even with the help of Student Finance, money can be tight whilst at university! Statistics show how 78% of students in the UK worry about keeping on top of their finances, but over 30% of students are still not budgeting.

Here are a few tips for saving money whilst at university:

1. Cook:

Takeaway food, restaurants, and even microwave meals are usually significantly more expensive than home-cooked food. Putting together some pasta with sauce can cost less than £1, and is probably healthier than most takeaway food. You don’t have to cook yourself every single day, but the more often you do it, the more money you will save in the long term. If you want some student cooking tips, check out our guide here.

2. Limit spending in clubs / bars:

For many students, one of the largest costs of university is drinking. Alcoholic pre-drinks, bar drinks, and clubs can all cost a huge amount. Whilst this is difficult to avoid, you can take steps to reduce spending. Buying drinks in clubs, particularly for other people, can be of huge expense. Try not to take your bank card on a night-out, or set a temporary limit on your card (something many banks allow) so you do not spend too much! You should also make use of student discounts / deals. Most clubs have a student night where both entrance and drinks are significantly cheaper, so concentrating on attending these nights will certainly help you out. Finally, avoid pre-drinking in bars. A home-made cocktail or store-bought beer will only cost you around £1 – £2 / drink, whereas a bar could charge up to £10! Of course bars are great to go to occasionally, but you can often have just as much fun in a student house or halls for significantly cheaper.

3. Make use of student cards:

Students can get so many student deals from almost every shop and restaurant. Investing in a Totum card or another student card will be hugely beneficial for you, as they only cost £10-£15 and can save you hundreds of pounds over the course of the year. Similarly, you should probably invest in a 16-25 Railcard. They cost just £30, but save you 33% on all train-fares, including the tube! If you live in London, or take any train more than 2-3 times per year, then this is definitely worth investing in. Lastly, before going to any restaurant, check if they do a student discount (most of them do)! When you ask for your bill, simply show them your student card, and you’ll get a tasty 25% off or sometimes more!

4. Find good-value accommodation:

Some students, particularly in big cities such as London, spend extraordinary amounts on their accommodation. It is important to make informed choices before choosing your accommodation, as once you sign the contract it is very difficult to get out of. There are many things you can do to reduce accommodation costs, such as moving in with more people, moving out of the city centre, or making use of university-owned accommodation. If you want more detailed advice, visit our accommodation page here.

If you want more tips for saving money as a student, check out our ‘Smash your Student Spending’ blog.

If you are living in London, we have lots of tips for you, including 10 things you can do in London for a tenner or less.

How to find a job whilst at University:

Finding a student job, particularly whilst studying at university, can be tricky. You have to spend time applying, go to interviews, and then find time to actually attend the job when you get it! So finding a student job really isn’t for everyone, and some universities don’t even allow their students to get a job whilst studying.

You have to make the right decision for you. Are you struggling with uni work? If so, then a student job may not be the best idea, as you could end up falling even further behind. Are you struggling with finances? Then a student job could be perfect for you, with an extra £150-£200 / week helping you to get by at uni!

But how do you actually find a student job? There are many ways. Of course job websites, such as Student Job, Indeed, or Milkround, all have fantastic sections for part-time work. Go on there, upload your CV, and wait to hear back! You can also do things the old fashioned way: Print off your CV, walk around the local area, and see if any shops or pubs are looking for part-time employees. You would be surprised how often people are looking for workers! For more information on finding a student job, please see our report on student work.

What student job should I get?

What job you should get entirely depends on your personal circumstances. Here are 3 of our favourite jobs you can get as a student:

1. Tutoring:

This obviously isn’t for everyone, but it by far the best paid (per hour) student job you can get. If you can speak another language, or achieved a high grade at A Level or university for a particular topic, then you should consider tutoring! There are many websites, such as First Tutors or My Tutor, that you can easily sign-up for free of charge. You can tutor in person or online via video chat, and you can easily charge £20-£40 / hour!

2. Work for your university:

This can be hard to find, but working for the uni can be extremely rewarding! Universities often have many jobs open, from general admin work, to manning the telephones, to working with students with disabilities. Disability work can be particularly rewarding, and jobs such as transcribing lecture notes for students with hearing difficulties can often be found at university.

3. Temporary work websites:

There are many websites, such as Temptribe, which give you access to hundreds of ‘temporary’ (one day) jobs. This gives you great flexibility to work only when you want, so if you have a busy schedule or deadlines due, you don’t have to worry about getting off work! These jobs such as working at football stadiums or for large events, can be an easy source of income if you are not looking for a regular part-time job.

For our full guide to the best student jobs, check out our top 5 student job blog here. Or, if you are looking for summer jobs, see our ‘Finding Summer Work’ guide.

If you still can’t decide what sort of job you want, then why not get a job with some fantastic employee discounts! Many jobs offer 30-50% off for employees, and some even extend the discount to friends / family as well. Places such as Nando’s offer brilliant employee discounts for your entire table, something which may help sway your choice when deciding on a job. Check out our list of the best employee discounts here.

Get Free Stuff at University:

Aside from making use of student discounts or getting a job, another way to save money can be getting free stuff! Here at Freshers Festival we have numerous guides to getting freebies, including attending our Freshers Festival events! Here are our top 3 ways to get freebies:

1. Freshers Week:

Freshers Week is obviously the best time to get freebies. Every university has a Freshers Fair, a Freebie Fair, or a Freshers Festival where you can go to get free stuff in your first week at university! Even if you’re not a first year student, these fairs will still usually be open to you, and it is something you should definitely make the most of. Remember, if you are a student in Sheffield, Glasgow, or London, then make sure to attend Freshers Festival where you can get all the free food, drink, and giveaways that you can carry!

2. Freebies from Apps:

Downloading apps is a great way to get free stuff. If you download the KFC app you will be rewarded with 3 virtual ‘stamps’, which is enough to get you a free side or starter such as 2 KFC hot wings! Similarly, if you sign-up for free to the ‘Friends of Krispy Kreme’ you can get a free doughnut. This isn’t on an app, but still an online way to get you free food!

3. Amazon Student:

This is an obvious one, but don’t forget to sign-up to Amazon Prime Student. Simply give them your university email, and sign-up to your 6 month free-trial of Prime Student. This gives you free access to Prime delivery, Prime Video, Prime Music, and more! You will also be sent a number of student discounted products. You can cancel your Prime Student membership right after you sign-up, which means you won’t be charged after the first 6 months, but you will still get the 6 month access to Amazon Prime.

If you want to find out how to get free flights or at least extremely cheap plane tickets, then check out our report here.

If you live in London, we have multiple freebie guides, including how to get free food in London, and a comprehensive list of free things to do in London