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© 2015 mo'adore | Content and design by Morag Lee | Powered by Blogger.

University: money matters

When I started speaking to some my younger blogging counterparts about what aspect of university they would want me to cover, money was the one that came up the most.

And yes, it is a big concern. I was originally planning to study at one of the two Aberdeen uni's because university was expensive as it was without moving away, but my mum was like NO NO NO sweetie go to which one you like (as long as it is in Scotland).

I did move away, and I survived. But, honestly, the advice I was given by SAAS and my guidance teacher or whoever else came to speak to us during sixth year of school, was absolutely pish, and didn't match up the reality that I had whilst moving away or the reality of other students.

So on we go with my experience of money whilst I was a student (and as a disclaimer this is my experience, things may have changed since I graduated in 2012 and unlike teachers I appreciate it is a different age group now going through university).

The obvious one. Apply for it in good time (and I mean as soon as you can because it's an understaffed public body) and apply for everything you are entitled to. Because I'm honest and transparent I'm going to lay it down on the internet that in first year I got £300+ a month, in second year I got just over £200, third year I got £91 and then fourth year I got £200+ but that got changed to £45 a month (I'll explain in a bit).

Reasons for these changes:
1. First year get more anyway, so it was reduced in secondyear
2. My mum moved into nursing management and got a sneaky pay rise, so I got less SAAS in third /fourth year
3. I missed out one digit of my dad's income when applying for fourth year and SAAS noticed before I did, so they cut it.

Moral of the story: do you SAAS quickly, and double check it before you hand it in. I know someone who had trouble getting her tuition fees paid because she accidently put it in as a masters.

Parental contribution
When applying for SAAS there was some kind of leaflet with suggested parental contribution amounts, but in truth in order to get through university most parents will need to be prepared to pay up more. If you get the full loan/bursary amount then fantastic but this is only really available to students who come from really disadvantaged backgrounds. Not to scare anyone but from my experience students (and their parents) who struggled the most were ones who came from middle-of-the-road families where they wouldn't get much SAAS but at the same time their parents income wasn't comfortable enough to give them £200 a month (and they might have had siblings).

My parents were very generous whilst I was at university and if I had to rely on SAAS alone (plus a part-time job) I would have had to drop out and go to an Aberdonian university. I know some people who had parents who were extremely detached from reality and didn't understand how much it costs to be a student. Have a proper talk to your parents and see how much they can contribute.

During the summer
I was told "work full-time during the summer" but this came from a generation who were studying during better economic circumstances. I had a job throughout the summer as a waitress and despite my mum's insistence that I should work more shifts it wasn't possible as I was part of the leisure industry which took one of the biggest hits in the downturn. But having that job and saving the money from it helped, and I would encourage you to try and do the same. If you are struggling to find a job during the summer before you go, then you will be entitled to Job Seekers but you won't be any other summer as you'll technically be a student.

Part-time work
This is by far the tip that is thrown around the most. It is difficult to find part-time work but at 18 you'll be cheaper to employ for a lot of people (even more if you're 17). I am in no way saying this right (it isn't) but it is a fact, and it can work in your favour. There is the question about balancing studies and I know some parents will pay for their kids to "concentrate on their studies" but we all know how big I am on work experience. These days (for a lot of degrees) you can't just have a degree so getting a part-time job also pays back for the future. There are many employers who would rather give the graduate with a second class honours who already has a previous employer/work experience a job, then someone who has a first class honours but never worked a day in their life.

In short: get a part-time job, but keep looking until you find something flexible (if your university employs students then try there - I got paid to be a freshers week helper and it was the easiest money I ever made).

Finding somewhere to live
Student halls are the cheaper option. Bills are included and you only have to stay in them for term time and not try to find the money for rent during the summer (when you you don't get SAAS). However at Abertay there were more students than halls so in third year we weren't allowed them unless we were foreign students and therefore forced to go private. Dundee still has a selection of private halls w- which are more expensive than uni halls but you don't have to stay there during the summer - but as I was pushing twenty I didn't really fancy halls anymore.

Sharing a flat with some people is cheaper at face value. I won't go into my own story of getting fucked over by flatmates, but if you live by yourself you won't have to pick up a high heating bill for a flatmate who won't wear a jumper, you won't lose a deposit because of something someone else did, and you won't be left paying extra rent if someone moves out or if someone decides they don't want to move in after everyone else has paid deposits (my story) or you go through a break-up with someone you live with (also my story).

Also: private landlords are better than letting agents. I could write a big post on flat hunting, but we'll leave it at this for now.

Bottom line
I remember dreading the financial part of university and was convinced I'd have to eat toast all day. But instead I was financially very comfortable as a student. As with all ages, some people will be poor and some people will be rich. I have known students who have dropped out due to financial reasons and other students who lived rather lavish lifestyles. My student days were probably the richest of my life - I had an income that wasn't just from my parents (SAAS) and didn't have to pay council tax (as I have to now). I have to budget much more now as a graduate not living with their parents than I had to as a student, which surprised me but might put things into perspective for current students.

There is maybe is a lot more I could talk about as money can be a big issue. But if you are starting university or thinking of going in the future, feel free to drop me a line and ask for one on one advice or ask about my real experience of being a 'skint' student.

morag | mo adore
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