Moving to uni is an exciting time but can also feel daunting. For many students, university is your first time thinking about things like rent, bills and budgeting. That’s why we’re sharing our top tips to consider when moving to uni – whether you’re a fresher or heading into your final year.
Living in student halls
Student halls of residence are managed by the university and are usually available during term time. Bills are normally included in your rent and you won’t have to pay council tax.
When you sign a tenancy agreement to move into halls, this is a legal document so it’s important to make sure you understand the terms and conditions. You’ll normally need to pay a deposit to secure against any damage or rent arrears. Rent is normally due at the start of each term to match with student loan payment dates.
You have the right to have repairs done in halls and the university is responsible for most repairs, except for minor things such as light bulbs.
Having a student landlord is different from a private landlord. If you owe rent at the end of the year, the university can stop you from progressing to the next year, receiving exam results or graduating until you’ve paid. They can also discipline students using the university code of conduct or disciplinary procedure.
Making a budget
If you receive a maintenance loan this will usually be paid over three instalments at the start of each term. It can be tempting to spend all of your loan in one go,so it’s a good idea to come up with a budget (and stick to it).
How to make a budget
- Write down your essential outgoings (rent, bills, laundry costs, groceries etc.)
- Write down your income (student loan, money from work)
- Use our budgeting tool
Top tips for budget planning
- Have your bank statements to hand
- Keep a spending diary
- Be as realistic as possible with your figures
- Include spending that happens occasionally (e.g. takeaways, going out)
Top money saving tips
- Take a shopping list with you to the supermarket
- Don’t go food shopping when you’re hungry
- Turn off appliances at the wall
- Only do laundry when you’ve got a full load
- Look at your subscriptions and decide which ones you need
- Don’t forget about student discounts – check websites like Save the Student
It’s possible you might need to borrow money to help cover your living costs whilst studying. However there are several things you should consider before you do:
- Shop around for the best deals
- Check the total amount you have to pay back – including fees and interest
- Make sure you know what the charges will be if you miss any payments
- Never borrow money in the spur of the moment
Most student bank accounts offer an interest free overdraft – however this will only be free whilst you’re a student. Some bank accounts include benefits such as Amazon vouchers or a free railcard. You should always shop around to find the best deal.
If you have a free overdraft you should use this before using other forms of credit.
Buy Now Pay Later
Buy Now, Pay Later is a type of credit that allows you to pay for items in instalments, often through services such as Klarna. Before you use it you should check the small print and make sure you know what you’re getting into. Don’t commit to something you can’t pay back.
Check your budget to make sure you can afford the repayments. If you miss a payment there may be extra fees and this could also damage your credit rating. If you’re having issues with Buy Now Pay Later or you’re struggling to make repayments, we can help. Find out more about borrowing money on our website.
Getting financial help
What financial help you can get depends on what course you study, where you live whilst you’re studying, and your individual circumstances.
Most full-time students can get a tuition loan to cover the full cost of tuition fees and a maintenance loan to cover the cost of living expenses. Maintenance loans are means tested so you’ll get more if your household income is lower. You normally don’t have to pay the loan back until you’ve left university and your income has reached a certain amount.
You might also be eligible for a bursary, which doesn’t need to be paid back. You should check this with your university or college.
Looking for somewhere to rent
If you’re looking for somewhere to rent privately, don’t pay any money until you’ve seen the accommodation. and take someone with you when you go to visit. Don’t forget to ask whether rent includes bills, when you’ll have to pay rent, how long you can rent for, and if you need to make any payments before moving in.
It’s a good idea to take photos of the property when you move in to show any damage that was already there when you arrived. This will help when getting your deposit back in case of any disputes over damage.
All inclusive bills
There are some companies who will combine your bills for you – this is called ‘all inclusive bills’ or ‘bill splitting’. These companies can be helpful but may be more expensive. You should always shop around to find the best deal.
Where to get help
If you need support whilst at university, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. You can get in touch with us for free advice or speak to your student union for support.