Five Top Tips for Completing Your Student Finance Application

Hi everyone, since Student Finance has opened, I thought I would use this blog to provide five top tips for completing your application!

 1. You don’t need an offer to apply

If you are still waiting for offers, no problem, you can still apply! Complete your application using your first preferred university and course, and if this changes you can update your application later on.


2. Make sure your application details are correct

Have your UCAS course code to hand and choose the correct academic year and mode of study i.e. full-time – this is very important if you don’t want your loan delayed.


3. Provide any supporting documentation quickly

You might be asked to send original documents with your application, if you are, send any documents requested from Student Finance by recorded delivery and track the delivery as you definitely won’t want them to get lost in the post.


4. Do your research and don’t be afraid to ask questions

Lots of support and guidance is offered by Student Finance themselves in the Student Finance Zone – scroll down to the bottom of the page for links to your correct student finance as they are different depending on where you live in the UK. Just make sure you apply before the deadline to get your money on time.  In my case I applied through Student Finance NI. Additionally, if you still have any questions you can email think@edgehill.ac.uk


5. Enrol promptly to release your funding in September

Your first payment is usually made around 3-5 working days after you are registered on course and the Uni has confirmed your attendance with Student Finance so it is important you complete your enrolment. Details are sent out to firm choice students over the summer so look out for that.

Thanks for reading and good luck 🙂

 

 

 


Money Tips

Hey all, I hope you’re doing well!

One of the things that can be difficult to manage as a student is money. For many students, it’s the first time they’ve had a lot of money responsibility, especially if you decide to live in Halls away from your family and haven’t gotten as much money to budget as Student Finance can give you. So, I thought I’d give you some tips from my own personal experience, so that it’s a little easier for you:

  • 1- If you’re going to spend money, take money out rather than using your card: It sounds like a simple tip and sometimes it can be unavoidable, but budgeting is a lot easier if you know exactly what money you’re spending, as some banks sometimes take a while to show transactions, so it can slip you up quite easily.
  • 2- Do regular budget checks: Sometimes things will come up and you might buy something or go on a night out and spend some money you hadn’t originally budgeted for, so it’s always good to go back over your budget at least monthly to make sure things are in check.
  • 3- Always leave some money to the side: It’s easy to budget and think that it’s a rock solid budget that you don’t need a fall back for, but it’s always good to have a bit of extra money, even if it just ends up being put towards going to see a film or going to a theme park later on.
  • 4- Jobs are scary but good: Dependent on your life experiences so far, you may or may not have had a professional job before. It’s ok if you hadn’t, I hadn’t, but it can be worrying when you’re looking for one. It’s good to get one to help out with your money though, it’s always nice to have something as well as Student Finance.
  • 5- Make sure you have your rent: Your rent is something that you need to make sure you prioritise. It’s easy to just think ‘oh my student finance will cover it when it comes through’ but you need to make sure you’ll have the money there when you need it without stress.

So, there’s a few things I’ve learnt to bare in mind when it comes to money. I hope some of these tips help you out.

Budgeting as a student

Being able to budget and plan your money is incredibly important as a student. It may be your first time receiving money where you have specific things you’ve got to pay for such as rent, food, sports memberships as well as the extras such as going out with friends wherever that may be to.

You should start by working out how much money you have coming in. This could be through Student Finance or from a part-time job that you are currently working. You should then make a list of all essential outgoings such as rent, bills, travel costs, course materials, food, toiletries, clothes and insurance as well as any extra study expenses which are expected for your course.

The next step is to work out how much you can afford to spend on each of these areas. Remember to save some money for optional extras such as entertainment as well as unexpected expenses and future savings. There are also often bigger occasions to save for such as holidays, Christmas and birthdays.

You should then look for ways to make savings. This could include buying your food from a cheaper supermarket or bulk buying certain items with the other people you are living with. You could also try having no spend days which can help keep your costs down considerably. If you are paying bills, take a look to see if there is a cheaper provider for the services you are receiving. Student discounts such as student rail cards, bus passes and the NUS card can also help you to save a little extra.

Finally, you should always keep track of what you are spending and review this regularly. This will help you to know whether you can afford to make certain luxury purchases or whether you should wait. You could keep a list or use an app or programme such as Blackbullion.

If you aren’t currently working but need a little extra money, you should consider a part-time job. The careers centre at Edge Hill are incredibly friendly and helpful and can check over your application or CV to help you get a job which is suited to the skills and experience you already have. Working whilst at university helps to improve your skills such as time management and communication and can also be a great way to network with other professionals in the area you hope to study in after you graduate. The money advice team at Edge Hill are always happy to help with any questions you may have about budgeting or funding.

Applicant Visit Days Ahoy!

With the beginning of February comes the Applicant Visit Days, typically held between now and March/April, non-interviewing applicants will soon receive notice of these wonderful days – maybe you already have! Although I personally did not attend an applicant visit day for Biology, I have worked for the Biology Department as an Applicant Visit Day Helper, therefore I know a little something about what goes down on one of these visit days.

The Edge Hill University Biology Department is home to many sub-disciplines, from ecology to human biology – despite this, students from different courses will certainly overlap both in the common first year and in shared modules. In account of this, the Applicant Visit Day has an introductory talk given to the cohort as a whole, as well as area specific activities with a focus on either ecology, human biology, or genetics, for example. When I worked the Applicant Visit Day last year, I supervised the ecology taster session – and introduction to invertebrate ecology and identification, using keys and microscopes. Also part of the Biology section on Applicant Visit Days is the building tour, where you get a better look at the labs and equipment available to use once you begin studying with us. With the opening of the Tech Hub and the top floor lab, there’s even more space and equipment to use!

Facilities
The Biosciences building for Biology at Edge Hill

I have also worked for the Money Advice Team on applicant visit days, as a Money Buddy, positioned in The Hub. The Money Advice Team hold presentations on student finance, as well as budgeting – particularly from a student’s point of view (hence the Money Buddies). My role was to speak to potential future students about financial help offered by EHU as well as budgeting advice.

The Tech Hub

One of the pros of attending an Applicant Visit day (other than getting a better feel for your course and department) is getting to meet other students. If you’re worried about meeting new people at university, your course is the best place to start, and Applicant Visit days give you a head start. I hope you’re able to attend one and take advantage of this opportunity!

Student Finance and the Money Advice Team

With Student Finance applications opening soon, money may be on the mind. Edge Hill University does a lot to help ease money woes and provides numerous services and opportunities. On such resource is the Money Matters website, which has useful information on loans (which I have briefly detailed below), grants, bursaries, scholarships, and more!

There are two loans available from the government for undergraduate university study:

Tuition Fee Loan:
This is something you largely don’t have to worry about. You can borrow enough to cover the tuition fee for your course and is not means tested. This will be paid directly to your university – I didn’t worry about it once I had applied.

Maintenance Loan:
To help with food, accommodation and travel, this loan will depend on a variety of factors: household income, whether you’re living at home or away, the exact location of your residence, and more. The maximum amount able to be received is £8,700, or £9,916 if you qualify for the increased Maintenance Loan. This will be received directly, usually in three instalments, to your bank account or building society.

Managing the money from your maintenance loan might seem like a challenge. Typically, you receive roughly a third per term and will have to budget your money to last appropriately, accounting for rent, food, other essentials and any left over for spending (i.e. social events, shopping).

This is where the Money Advice Team can help. Available for drop-ins Monday and Friday, 10am-1pm, and Tuesday and Thursday from 1pm-4pm, they can lend a hand in keeping your finances on track, providing budgeting tips and techniques as well as information about the Student Support Fund and part-time job opportunities.

Not only are there a number of jobs on campus available to Edge Hill students (such as open day helpers and library staff), the Money Advice Team can help you find jobs in the surrounding area such as St Helens, Preston, and Liverpool.

The wonderful world of Student Finance!

Hello all, hope you’ve had a great week.

I wanted to make a post about possibly one of the most important things (in my opinion) surrounding university life: Student Finance and funding options! If you are living on campus or even if you think you’ll struggle with course and travel costs, Student Finance is something I’d definitely suggest. This is a funding board put together by the government for current studying students.

There are currently two different loans on offer for new students:

  • Tuition fee loans: these pay for the price of the course you want to study. Even if you are staying at home and aren’t wanting extra funding because of this, the University still charges a fee for being on the course. You have to pay this back after Uni, however, this is once you begin to earn over £21,000 a year (https://www.gov.uk/repaying-your-student-loan/overview)
  • Maintenance loans: this is the loan you might want to apply for if you are living on campus or need help with anything such as travel fees, course books and necessities and food during your time on campus etc. You also have to pay this back, however, the same rules apply as with the tuition fee loan.

The application process can seem daunting, especially if this is your first attempt at applying for any kind of funding for anything, but if you follow what is said during the application process, you’ll be ok! Your parents/guardians are also required to fill out an application of their own so that they can gather information on their income and also get confirmation on the information you’ve given them. You are required to send certain documents as proof of what you’ve said and ID, but this is all clearly explained, so don’t worry!

Once your application has been processed, you will get a clear confirmation email and will eventually be told how much you are entitled to.

I found the Student Finance process to be quite daunting, so here’s a few tips:

  • Don’t panic! You’ll be ok just as long as you stay organised and listen to what you are being instructed to provide and mention in the application process.
  • Don’t keep putting it off. Especially if you need funding for rent or food! You don’t want to be caught out by deadlines or risk not getting paid when you need the money.
  • Read the guidelines and criteria provided. This will stop you getting caught out by anything that might mean your application doesn’t get accepted or is stalled.

Most of all, just remember the top tip I’ve provided!

Click here for a link to the Student Finance page and some information on how to apply and what you need to know.

Futures and Funds

So getting a job is probably the last thing on your mind right now… well a full-time job anyway! However in just over three years you’ll have nearly finished your degree and if you’re lucky enough you may have already landed yourself a job! So this is really something you need to bear in mind because the next few years will fly by and you don’t want to be panicking!

Ensuring you have a plan and you’ve chosen a degree that opens doors to a career that you will enjoy is absolutely essential! Otherwise you are wasting your precious money and time, you are best of speaking to the course leader of the course your applying for and seeing what is in store for you! Sometimes, as you might find with college, uni is tough so making sure you thoroughly enjoy the subject is vital.

Other things to look at is the money aspect of your chosen career, can you work your way up to a managerial role? Firstly though you will have to apply for Student Finance, although it is not open yet, it is worth taking a look at what you need in order to apply. The Government have provided a really useful webpage that states exactly what you need (found here), so it may be worth gathering these things now so you are prepared!

Edge Hill also provide a great resource (here) around money you may be entitled to as an undergraduate on a full-time course (bursaries, scholarships, loans), which again you need to look at to ensure you have exactly what you need to begin University on the right foot!

Best of luck, if you have any questions please feel free to ask!

Money, money, money…

One of the biggest worries people have when coming to university is about whether they can afford it. However, most people are able to access money from the government to help out with the costs of being a student.

If you currently live in England, you can access the Student Finance Calculator, which will give you an indicator of how much money you might receive when you go to university.

Check out the links below if you don’t currently live in England:

So, what are the big costs of going to university?

The largest for me was and is accommodationThis took up a large bulk of the money I received from student finance, particularly as, during my first year, I had picked an ensuite room to live in. This was important to me in my first year, as I didn’t really know anyone I’d be living with, and I was concerned about cleaning the bathroom myself. However, in halls, a cleaner cleans shared bathrooms and the communal areas every week day, whereas I had to clean my bathroom! This year, I’m living in a house with a shared bathroom, and it really isn’t as bad as I had first imagined when applying for accommodation – even though we have to clean the bathroom.

You might be commuting instead of living on or around campus, but it’s just as important to research the different ways of getting to university. It might be that the bus is cheaper, but takes longer, so you have to consider what works for you in the long run. Is that extra half an hour in bed more important than being able to pay for your weekly coffee?

The next most important thing on my list of costs is food. I’ve known people not blink and spend £60 on a weekly shop, then wonder how they’re going to afford to eat for the rest of the term. It is so, so important to budget. The way that I do it is to divide how much I have (once I’ve taken out the cost of accommodation) to spend by how many weeks there are in that semester (eg £140 in a 7 week semester would be £20 a week).

I then shop around. In Ormskirk, there is an Aldi, an Iceland, and a Morrison’s, but other big shops will deliver too. Tesco currently have the ‘Click and Collect’ option, where they bring deliveries to campus on a specific day of the week for students to pick up. Personally, I prefer Aldi, as it is cheaper, but if I’m particularly busy with assignments that week and I know I can’t get to the shops, I might do a big order online that will keep me going for a few weeks.

It’s easy to forget to eat healthily when you’re a student too, especially if you don’t like cooking, or if you don’t go shopping very often. At the moment, there’s a fruit and veg store on a Wednesday that is run in the hub, which has really good prices. So, even if you’ve decided to go another week without doing a shop and don’t have anything fresh, you can always pick something up once a week in the hub.

The next big cost most students incur is nights out. Now, I don’t really spend a lot on nights out, but my friends and I do enjoy takeaway every now and again. It’s important to include these in your budget when you’re planning how much you can spend a week too. If that means deciding if you’d rather go out every night of the week and spend only £5 a night, or once a week and spend £35, it has to be done.

Remember, budgeting is your best friend.

Money Money Money

Sorry for the Mamma Mia title there, it’s clearly on the mind…
I feel that one of the biggest worries when coming to university is, how the hell am I going to afford this?! And you’re right, it’s a huge investment you’re making and a huge amount of debt to be getting into that sometimes it can seem a little overwhelming. But here I have compiled a little list of things to think about before coming to university to show how you can earn, save or raise your university funds…

Scholarships
Hopefully your sixth form and college has talked about this with you already, but just incase they haven’t I thought it would be worth a little mention. Edge Hill University offers a range of scholarships to reward excellence in prospective students. Excellence Scholarships and Sports Scholarships have an application process while the High Achievers Scholarship and Liverpool Scholarship are awarded automatically to eligible prospective students. This is definitely something worth looking into as you could be entitled to a little bonus you didn’t even know about that will help you pay for things throughout your university experience, for more info check out this link Here.

Jobs
I’ve done a whole post on finding jobs at university so I will link that here.
But I’d also suggest trying to get a job during the summer break before coming to save up a little bit. I did this and I found it a huge help to have a little savings that I could dip into when I really needed a night out or some retail therapy.

Saving
There are loads of ways to save money at university but one of the best ways I have found is saving on the food bill! This can be done in so many ways but the best way I have found is to shop at Aldi and do a food shop with your flat mates. Even if just two or three of you do it together every week you’ll find you save so much and bonus: you don’t have to cook every night!

I’ve also written a whole post about what I’m not worried about student debt and neither should you read that here.

It’s just another manic Monday…

I wish it was Sunday…

Anyway, enough of the Bangles, how are you?

I’m good. Actually, I’m really good. All my assignments are finished and submitted, my presentation went super well and our group worked so well as a team (well done guys) and lastly I have my first and only exam of the year on Thursday. I can’t even describe how excited I am to get it out of the way and to finally say goodbye to exam stress, revision and worries about results.

I feel like 2016 is looking good already. One of my new year resolutions was to be more optimistic, so maybe that’s why I see a silver lining for everything at the minute, but positivity is actually making me smile way more, yay. Once this exam is out of the way, my dissertation is going to be my main focus, then assignments, graduation and then, well, life I guess. I’ve started to think what’s after uni and I have a range of options. I’m most likely going to take a year out, hopefully travelling, exploring and getting lost half way around the globe… but after that I need to start with a career direction. I’ve been thinking about whether to do a post-grad qualification, or maybe an extension to my course to possibly go into counselling? But who knows.

Anyway less about me, more about you… How’s college? Decided what course you’re studying at EHU next year? Excited? You should be! Uni is a whole new ball game. You’re going to love the independence, from learning how to manage your own money (sometimes poorly, but it’s all a learning curve) to deciding what to have for tea, it’s all very exciting. The social life is fantastic and you genuinely will meet your friends for life here (I definitely have) and studying a subject that you love makes everything worthwhile.

I’m jealous I can’t start again with you, but I’m very excited for the next chapter to begin…

Until next time…