You’ve got that place at university or college and now you’re about to take your first steps in to adult life, moving out of home and away from mum and dad. These are exciting times - but they can also be stressful. And not just when the work starts piling up, but also when it comes to paying bills which you may or may not be used to.
If you’re a Scottish resident and plan to study here, you won’t have any tuition fees to pay and you may be eligible to receive a student loan to help pay towards your living costs while you study. If you plan to study elsewhere in the UK, you could be due to pay fees, but you can apply for a tuition fee loan which doesn’t need to be paid back until after you’ve completed your course and are earning over a certain level. See more in the Student Loans section on this website.
Maintenance loans can be applied for at the same time, lending you money at the start of each term, or monthly in Scotland. How much you get depends on your household income, where you study, where you live and how long for.
If you’re from a low income household, you might be eligible for a maintenance grant or bursary from your place of study or an Education Maintenance Allowance may be available from the Local Authority based in the area of your study .
The next step is to prepare a budget and see how far your finances will stretch and decide on ways to maximise your income and where to make cutbacks. A part-time job may be a good idea but ensure to find a good balance of working so you don’t impact on your studies. The holidays are an ideal time to save some money up to see you through the term ahead.
This may also be the first time you have had to pay your own bills and cook your own meals - and is therefore a great time to learn some ways to save money. If you’re moving into halls of residence, utilities will most likely be included as part of the rent but if you are getting a place to live with friends you will need to start budgeting for the electricity, gas and TV license. Full-time students in England, Scotland and Wales are exempt from council tax, so if your room mates are all students too there will be nothing to pay. Information on students and their council tax responsibilities is available on the mygov.scot website.
If you do fall into debt, you should be aware there are many organisations out there that can help and most universities and colleges will have support in place to help students cope with the worry and stress of debt. They will be able to help with providing information on hardship loans that may be eligible and ensure you’re receiving all the support you’re entitled to.
The following organisations can also help with student finance: