Emily spent her teenage years in Spain where she attended an international school before returning to England to study for a biosciences degree at the University of Plymouth. Go Plymouth asked her to give some tips to new students following in her footsteps…
‘If you’re thinking of going on to higher education at any university I would advise you to get your finances sorted out as soon as possible.
The entitlement to student loans seems to be (in my experience at least) a very grey area especially when income assessment and residency are involved. I submitted my application for a loan covering tuition fees and the basic maintenace loan the April before I started uni… and didn’t receive a penny until January the following year!
Many students starting university at 18 have never had a bank account of their own and the freedom it brings to be in charge of your own money gives us all a fantastic sense of independence.
Most banks offer student accounts with benefits such as railcards and larger overdrafts which may seem attractive but have been the downfall of many a struggling student I know.
Having not been resident in the UK for three years before starting my degree I was not entitled to a student bank account. This proved to be a blessing in disguise as with no overdraft available to me, if I didn’t have it I couldn’t spend it! This may seem obvious, but I think it has to be said because I’ve known many students who managed to pile up £4,000 of debt without considering that they may have to pay it back at some point out of their £3,000 a year maintenance loan.
It’s also important to remember that even if your account doesn’t offer an interest free overdraft you can still continue to spend money beyond what is in your account using your debit card and will be charged for each day you are in the red.
My advice is to steer well clear of any account with an overdraft unless you are extremely confident in your ability to keep a firm handle on the spending and be sure to check your account balance regularly to avoid charges. An overdraft is NOT free money and if it’s available we tend to use it in desperate/drunken times.’