Heading to Uni Whilst Minimising Debts

11 September 2018

We’ve reached the time of year when students, like myself, start heading away to study at university, or
head back to their courses after a break. Now, with rising tuition fees, many of us merely accept that
pursuing higher education is going to be an expensive venture. However, there are different ways that
you can minimise costs and although you are theoretically 'in debt', the majority of students only pay
a small percentage of that back throughout the rest of their lives. Here are a few steps that you might
want to consider taking to minimise your expenses and debts!

Look Out for Scholarships and Grants

Every year, universities tend to run scholarship and grant schemes for their students; whether you are
heading into your first year of studies or have already commenced your studies and are heading into
your second, third, or fourth year, it’s always a good idea to look at what’s on offer. If you find that there
is a scheme or scholarship where you meet the requirements (perhaps in terms of grades,
extracurricular achievements, or inclusion measures), then it’s always worth inquiring and seeking out
more information. You could apply and be granted some sort of award or have your tuition fees
reduced. Luckily, I managed to get a grant based on my parent's yearly income and my boyfriend
managed to get an enormous bursary for winning "Physicist of the Year" in sixth form.

Choose Your Credit Agreements Wisely

The majority of students will take out some sort of credit agreement during their studies. Whether this
is an overdraft, credit cards, or a loan, chances are that you will need to take on some alternative
funding to get you through your studies at some point or another. The trick to making a success of
your credit agreements is to choose them wisely. Chances are that you haven’t had much chance to
build up a credit rating properly yet, as you’re likely to have only recently finished compulsory education,
and you may still live at home. However, you should still familiarise yourself with concepts such as
interest rates. Always opt for the credit agreement with the lowest interest rate, as it means you will be
charged less for the service of borrowing money from a professional lender. If you don’t have a good
enough credit history to take out the credit agreement that you desire, you can also consider guarantor
loans. This means that someone guarantees to meet your payments if you can’t, but gives you the
opportunity to build your credit score and gain trust yourself.

Buy Textbooks Secondhand

University textbooks are notoriously expensive. Publishers know that students require them to
complete their courses and tend to take advantage of this fact by upping their prices. However, you
don’t necessarily need to purchase all of your books brand new. Instead, look for copies on online
auction sites, or ask people in the year above on your course if they’re interested in selling you their
used copies. This can save you a small fortune. Personally, I just utilised my university library
throughout the whole year and only bought a couple books when really necessary - e.g. a book that it
going to last me the entire three year course rather for just a single module in one semester.

Make the Most of Your Student Discount

The majority of businesses and companies offer student discount in an attempt to encourage students
to spend money with them. While you don’t want to get drawn into every deal going, you can use your
student discount wisely. If you are buying something, always make sure to ask whether the seller
accepts student discount, even if student rates aren’t advertised! They may still be on offer and small
business owners may do discretionary discounts. You should also ask whether certain services offer
concession rates that extend to students. Many gyms offer student rate memberships, as well as
theatres, cinemas, and other establishments can offer special prices for students. Making the most of
your student discount can really save you a significant sum of money in the long run!

Consider Own Brand Food Shopping

The majority of students simply purchase the same brands and products that they were used to finding
in their cupboards at home, but you can save some serious money and make your outgoings stretch
further by opting for unbranded or own brand products in the supermarket. A lot of the time, you won’t
actually be able to tell the difference between the products, but your bill at the end of your shop will
come to a much smaller figure.

Of course, there are certain parts of pursuing a higher education that will inevitably leave you in debt.
It is possible to take active steps to minimise the overall amount of money that you spend during your
studies and owe by the end of your studies.

What are your top tips for budgeting and minimising costs? Are you heading back to uni this September/October?

Lots of love

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