As a mature student, one of the main things that I had to consider before coming to university was my finances. I had gotten used to earning a full time wage every month for a number of years and over time I had committed to various financial agreements (including a mortgage) that relied on this wage coming in; so I knew that giving this up would be hard. I had no idea how student finance worked so the whole process terrified me! I didn’t let this put me off though and after looking into it I realised that things weren’t so bad and it was doable.
Anyone, regardless of their financial situation is able to borrow their tuition fees from the government which you do not have to pay back until your are working and earning £21,000 or above per annum; and it’s a relatively small amount which you pay back each month (at a salary of £21,000 a year, you would pay £39 each month!).
Depending on your household income, you may also be entitled to a maintenance grant of up to £3,354 and/ or a maintenance loan of up to £6,535 (£7,675 in London) each year to help towards living costs. Both the grant and the loan gets paid into your bank account at the beginning of each term and the amount is (near enough) equally split; so for Edge Hill university students on full time, undergraduate degree programmes you get paid around the beginning of September, the beginning of January and the beginning of April (on the assumption that you’ll support yourself during the summer).
You can also be awarded a scholarship from the university and there’s plenty of research and field study grants out there; you just need to know where to find them ! I have been awarded a £1000 plant study grant and a £200 fee towards a conference (as talked about in my previous blog!) whilst completing my degree.
Edge Hill also offers financial advice and support to students who require it. They can offer advice on budgeting, help you find part time work and also help to make sure that you are aware of the financial support available to you. Also, each year the government provides the university with an allocated amount of money called the Access to Learning fund. This enables the university to support students who are struggling financially; I was awarded this in my first and second year because my income did not cover my outgoings (although I did have to prove this of course).
There is the option to work part time too, which is what the majority of students tend to do. I have worked several jobs throughout my time at university and although it can be difficult to manage this around full time study sometimes, it is doable ! I have always worked on a casual basis as a Student Guide and Blogger for Edge Hill and I have also had a cleaning job, carried out volunteer work and worked full time during the summer too. Although this has meant that i’ve been extremely busy, it’s allowed me to keep up with my bills and i’ve actually developed lots of transferable skills that I can now use after I graduate!
Of course, a bit of common sense and budgeting skills also helps a lot ! I’ve cut down on a lot of things that I don’t really need (for example clothes shopping, expensive holidays and getting my nails done!), and just being organised and keeping on top of things really helps. I’ve found that because i’ve kept myself so busy, I don’t really miss out on some of the things I used to spend my money on because I now focus my energy on assignments and succeeding in my degree 🙂 Theres some very useful information out there as well such as Martin Lewis’ money saving expert website which I have found very useful !