Being crippled with debt has unfortunately come to be considered part and parcel of the student experience, and considering that following the recent General Election, news broke that student loan debt in the UK surpassed the £100 billion mark for the first time, it’s not difficult to understand why.
This resignation to a life spent repaying borrowed money leads many to not even consider how best to deal with their finances until after completing their studies, when in fact the reality is that with some canny steps, you could do some serious pre-emptive damage control, significantly reducing the amount of debt you amass in the first place. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Get a part time job
Supplementing your studies with a part time job is a great way to retain some financial independence, as the more money you have coming in, the less you need to borrow from elsewhere. There’s also no reason why you need to wait until you’re at college or university to start earning and saving; why not find a weekend job throughout high school and get ahead of the game.
Use existing funds
It’s a common misconception that everyone who studies has to take on student loans of some kind, but if you’re lucky enough to be able to fund your education in part of in full using the likes of savings or inheritance, there’s no reason to feel obliged to take on credit.
Live at home
A lot of soon-to-be students feel the urge to fly the nest right away, but with financial times wearing hard for many people, opting for a university close to home and living with family is becoming an increasingly popular way to drastically cut down on expenses, including costly accommodation, travel and utilities.
Buy necessities second-hand
When you’re first about to begin your studies and the list of required textbooks and equipment arrives, the price tag that comes along with it can be pretty daunting. These very expensive books can often be found far cheaper second-hand from graduating students who no longer need them.
Though this very much depends on the course and university you opt for, there are often exchange programmes and other such opportunities to study abroad for a portion of your degree. In many cases, grants are available to fund these trips and/or, your tuition fees can be waived for the duration of your time overseas.
If you have a clear idea of what job you ultimately want to be doing, it’s worth looking into any possible apprenticeships, internships or training schemes that could see you learn on-the-job, rather than at university. In some instances, you may even be paid a small wage to help out during your time as a trainee, with the possibility of a full-time position awaiting successful candidates.
If you do borrow any money, don’t beat yourself up or fall into the trap of thinking this means it will necessarily hang over you for decades to come, as though the re-pay rate is usually fairly low and slow, you can make additional voluntary payments at any time, cutting into your debts as and when you can and getting back in the black before interest really hits.