Student Advice Service – Money Matters

News from the Student Advice Service at the University of Brighton

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Student Finance and money ‘to do’ list for new students

Welcome to the University of Brighton! We hope that you are looking forward to starting your new adventure with us.

Starting at university can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you are living away from home and managing your own finances for the first time.

As the Student Advice Service, we want your university experience to be as smooth as possible, and we’re here to answer any questions you may have or support you might need if you find yourself struggling with anything finance and funding related.

By now, most of you will have your finances in place, but if you don’t, don’t panic! Take a look at our checklist below to make sure you’re on the right path:

1. Apply for funding

If you haven’t yet applied for your student funding we would recommend doing this as soon as possible. The application process will depend on your nationality, where you have been living before starting uni and whether this is your first time studying at degree level.

If you have previously applied for student funding, even if it was a long time ago, you should use the same customer reference number. If you don’t know it, you can log on using a familiar email address instead and hopefully your details will be retrievable.

It can take up to 6-8 weeks for applications to be approved, but it is always worth chasing up your application with your relevant funding provider after 4 weeks to make sure they have everything they need and that your application is progressing. You will always need your customer reference number, password and secret answer when calling.

Further evidence can usually be uploaded to your online account (if you have one), but if you opt to send any documents by post, we recommend using a ‘signed for’ delivery service and clearly marking each document with your customer reference number.

Once you receive your ‘notification of entitlement’ from Student Finance, make sure to check the information carefully and notify Student Finance if anything looks incorrect.

Once you have been fully assessed for your funding, if you have applied for a Maintenance Loan you should see your scheduled payment dates on the ‘Payments’ tab on your online Student Finance account. Your first payment will usually default to the first day of term, which for most new students is Monday 25 September 2023, however, this won’t be released until you have completed enrolment and we have informed your relevant funding body. This typically takes 3 working days so we advise you to come prepared and have access to some funds when you arrive.

2. Online tasks

There are a number of online tasks that need to be completed before you start. This is to ensure that you can be fully enrolled and have access to everything you need, including your student email address, study information and timetables, and to ensure you receive your student finance.

3. Open a student back account

You need to have access to a bank account for your student funding to be paid into. We encourage you to look at different student bank account options as most banks offer additional benefits such as an interest free overdraft facility, free 16-25 Railcard, or even Cash Back as an incentive to open an account with them. If you already have a current account, you could ask your existing bank what they offer, although it is always worth doing some research to find the best account for you. Money Saving Expert, Compare the Market and Which? websites all have comparison of student bank accounts, so having a read through these is a good starting point.

It is your responsibility to notify Student Finance of any changes to your bank details, so if you have already provided account details to them but intend to open a Student Bank Account, make sure you update your details as soon as possible to avoid any potential delays to your funding.

4. Make a budget

The first step in managing your money successfully whilst you are a student, is to work out exactly what income you will have coming in across the year, and what you will be paying out on essential costs. This will give you an idea about what you have left to spend on the less essential things and highlight any areas where you need to try and tighten the purse strings.

For most, the main source of income will be from a student loan, but may also include things like bursaries, savings, overdraft, parental contributions or earnings from part-time work.

Remember that the Maintenance Loan is paid in 3 termly instalments across the academic year, so it may be easiest to work out your total income for each term, and then divide this by the number of weeks in that term to give you a weekly budget.

Next you need to estimate your essential expenditure for the same period of time. This will include things like rent, bills, food, toiletries, transport and course materials.

Once you have a figure for both income and essential expenditure, subtract your expenditure from your income, and anything left is yours to spend on extras such nights out, gym membership, hobbies, take-aways etc.

You may find you need to tweak your income and expenditure figures along the way, especially if your initial calculations were based on estimates, but the same principle will apply.

If you would like support with creating a budget, please get in touch with us at the Student Advice Service, or take a look at the Save the Student budgeting tools to get you started.

5. Looking for part-time work whilst studying?

Most students work alongside their studies to help supplement their income.

If you are currently working and there is an opportunity for you transfer your position nearer to uni, now is the time to ask. Failing that, if your plan is to work over the holidays and not in term time, make sure you ask your current employer if your position can be held for you for Christmas, Easter and next summer.

In the meantime, if you would like help with securing part-time work, updating your CV, or improving your interview skills, the Careers Team will be happy to help. Why not sign up to our Vacancy Service to search for positions that are available right now.

For more helpful guides and tips, please visit the Starting at uni pages of our website.

Please get in touch if you have any questions. We are here for you and we are available all year round, just email us.

Good luck and see you soon!

Student Advice Service

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

financefundingmoneystarting unistudent finance

Helen Abrahams • June 29, 2023

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