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Managing your Finances!

Some say the most important thing about University is the qualification you get at the end of it. Others view the social aspect of it as the pinnacle of the experience. It’s a sign of independence, fledging the nest and taking your life into your own hands. Sadly, none of this matters if you can’t conjure up a considerable chunk of cash to pay for it all...Enter student finance. Forget degrees, forget friends, this is the be all and end all of university life (unless you are fortunate enough to have financial support from other entities i.e the bank of mum and dad). On the eve of the start of term, the student finance elves sprinkle their magical fairy dust over our bank accounts and voila; we are rich beyond our wildest dreams (well, a bit more than we were with that Saturday job at ASDA). But how does it all work? How much money do we get, and why? And most importantly, when do we have to pay it back? Here are some common concerns and misconceptions about the ins and outs of student finance that you needn’t actually worry about:


The myth:
Student finance is a nightmare to apply for!

The facts:
Applying for a student loan is a lengthy but very straightforward process. As you can imagine, borrowing upwards of £13 000 from the government doesn’t just happen overnight (what you heard about the student finance elves is an old urban legend, most likely untrue).But don’t panic! Take some deep breaths, make a cup of tea, and take your time with the application – as long as everything you are putting down is correct and up to date you shouldn’t run into any problems. The font used on the application forms is nice and friendly, too. 


The myth:
My parents have good jobs and can afford to give me money – I’m not eligible to get any money from student finance

The facts:
If the household you come from earns over a certain amount of money (£42,620 per year to be exact), you won’t be eligible for any maintenance grants, which is money on top of your maintenance loan that you don’t have to pay back. Everyone, however, is entitled to a maintenance loan to squander on booze and other important recreational activities. And clothes and shoes. Lots of clothes and shoes. Unfortunately, as with most things in life, student finance has its flaws. Some of you may find that your maintenance loan doesn’t cover your accommodation costs, and you’re not eligible for any extra grants or support from the government. In lots of cases, family can help with extra living costs but this doesn’t always happen. If you find that you fall into this unfortunate category of people, you’re probably going to have to get a part time job. If you can’t get one straight away, you can always set up an overdraft to fall back on, which leads us to...


The myth:
AVOID ENTERING YOUR OVERDRAFT AT ALL COSTS OR YOU WILL DIE A MOST PAINFUL DEATH

The facts:
The student account overdraft is your friend. The softest and warmest financial cushion. It is the only overdraft you will have the pleasure of using completely interest free, so don’t be afraid of being in the red. This isn’t to say that you should aim to go into your overdraft; obviously that’s a little silly. If you are worried about your rent being a bit much, you needn’t go down the path of malnourishment to pay for it. With a planned student overdraft (you sort of have to inform the bank) you can make your rent payments on time whilst avoiding a cupboard full of despair in the form of chicken flavoured noodles. Most overdrafts will remain interest free for a year after you graduate so you get the chance to pay it back. Obviously this varies from bank to bank, so make sure to check this before applying.


The myth:
Paying back your student loan takes over your life, especially now that tuition fees have gone up

The facts:
Yes, yes it’s very sad that tuition fees have risen by incredible proportions, but don’t let it get in the way of your future. If you’re one of the unlucky souls to be steam-rolled with a £9K per year tuition fee, it’s true that paying it back will probably occur for a large chunk of your life (unless you start earning lots of money very quickly, congrats to all you medics). That it takes over your life and stops you spending your hard earned money on other things is not true – you only have to start paying it back once you earn over £21 000 a year, and in completely reasonable and manageable proportions*. If for some reason you don’t manage to pay it all back in 30 years, it completely disappears - as if by magic! The elves really must exist.
Someone once said “money is the route of all evil”. Someone else said “money can’t buy happiness”. Oh, and someone else said “money makes the world go round”, by this point you’ve probably figured out everyone has a lot to say about money; it is the subject of hatred and adoration…and as much as you might try to forget it, you need an awful lot of it if you want to go through further education. Granted, it seems like a bit of a ridiculous amount to just ‘borrow’, but as long as you don’t have a burning desire for a rolex or designer handbag your finances should be completely manageable. The most important thing to remember is don’t panic about it all – after all, it’s only money... 

*For a more comprehensive breakdown of loan repayments, visit https://www.gov.uk/student-finance/repayments

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