student life

Taking the problem of student debt by the horns

Studetn debt, kettle mag
Written by Nigel Simpkins

There are not many students in the UK today who do not spend time worrying about money but the experience of university study still draws a significant amount of applications – by January 2017 37% of 18 year olds in England had applied. It is easy to fall into debt traps for young people who may be away for home from the first time, but following some simple steps can ensure debt is minimised and they can enjoy their time at university with less financial worry.

Don’t Go Gung-Ho Student

Beware those heady first weeks! Students usually make their first financial mistakes in Freshers Week. There’s the lure of ice breaking socials, Freshers Fayre; where clubs may try and get students to sign up and pay a subscription fee there and then, banks offering student accounts with overdrafts and credit cards…. The key advice to students is to pace themselves. It’s not necessary to go on every social or join every club that meets their interest in the first week, and taking out a credit card without an income to pay a decent amount of it off at the end of the month is a recipe for further debt. For a little restraint, they will feel all the better when that first essential textbook list or rent bill comes in

Ways and Means

Try and compensate for the debt accrued as a student by finding ways to save and make money. A part-time job can be the answer, either in the university town or during seasonal periods at home, but failing that students can investigate pursuing opportunities in mystery shopping and survey sites; they won’t make much this way but every little helps! Universities often offer occasional work, for example on open days as university guides, and sometimes can help in finding part-time work through ‘Jobshops’.

Face Up To It

If finances do take a tumble, it’s advisable to tackle this issue head on rather than hiding it. Some students, out of embarrassment or desperation, go to payday loans companies or other questionable sources of help, but it is always best to seek debt management help as soon as possible rather than covering the problem up. Most of the time even when financial woes seem insurmountable, getting proper advice can result in a plan put in place where the debt is still repaid but at a lower rate over a longer period of time.

Student debt itself is not going to go away; universities need funding and students pursuing a specific career often need a degree. However, if students show restraint and good money sense in minimising their debt, rather than resorting to desperate measures, they can still have a good experience of university life, all the better for not worrying about crippling interest rate charges by unscrupulous loan companies.