The 1st October 2018, midnight, in town for Fresher’s week. Alongside all of my friends, we checked our bank accounts and felt like millionaires – our student loan had been paid in! The bar was busy as we all suddenly had money again and what an amazing feeling it was… until the morning after.
Your first student loan payment will more than likely feel overwhelming. For some people, it was the first time they had been paid from someone other than their parents, for others it helped them to enter a positive bank balance after Fresher’s week. There was also a lot of confusion, “what’s the difference between my maintenance loan and my tuition fee loan?” “When do I need to pay my accommodation?” “How’s this money supposed to last me until January?” “Is there anything that university can do to help?” and I think most of these questions were asked by me!
Student finance can be complicated. You apply for your loan, your parents fill out a form and then you get an email. Money! However, this loan is split into two parts: tuition fee and maintenance loan. The tuition fee loan is the money that goes directly to your university, which pays your £9250 a year. It is the maintenance loan that is important to you, as this is money that you will use to pay your accommodation and day to day outgoings.
Your maintenance loan has to be paid into a bank account, and a good tip is that it gets paid directly into a student account. Lots of banks offer these, and often have incentives for you to create an account with them, such as free overdrafts, high interest rates, railcards or even £100! I opted for the 4 year railcard as it helps to save me 1/3 of my train ticket price for when I go home.
Hope give out scholarships in the form of a cash prize. For the 2019-20 year, these scholarships are for Music, Dance, Drama or Sport, in which the university recognises and rewards outstanding achievement in these four areas. These are a great way of gaining some extra support so be sure to check the website if you think you may qualify.
Most students also try to get a job whilst at university, and there is lots of support from Hope for this! During Fresher’s week there will be a part-time job fair with lots of well-known names, so make sure to have a CV handy. On your MyHope portal, there is a Careers Centre which has a job search tool and an interview simulator, as well as a CV builder. There is also HopeWorks on your portal, which is the site for all jobs on campus which are very convenient. To do this, you have to apply at the Employability Hub within the Gateway Building and then all the vacancies will be sent straight to your inbox.
Living on campus can be really beneficial; not only is there a free shuttle bus from Hope Park to Aigburth and Creative Campus, but accommodation take your payment a few days after your student loan comes in so you don’t have to worry about finding the money before you get your loan.
I lived at Hope Park during my first year and am about to start living at Aigburth Park. There is a Tesco not far from Hope Park, or there is an Aldi on the 61 bus route (MyTickets for under 19’s are £2.20 and valid all day!) towards Bootle. I had never done a food shop before moving to Hope, and found that by shopping at Aldi I could buy more food for the same amount of money I was spending at Tesco. Another good tip is to do a joint food shop with your flatmates and take it in turns cooking if you like the same things, or batch cook for yourself. One of my favourite meals is a chilli, which serves 4 people, so I would have one portion and put the rest in containers in the freezer. This was perfect after a long day when I didn’t feel like cooking.
To ensure that I didn’t run out of money towards the end of term, I used the traditional method of writing things down so that I could stay on track. I worked out how much money I had per week after my accommodation payment, and then allowed myself to only spend this much, keeping all receipts and making a note of how much I had spent. If I had any money left over for that week, I would treat myself to a new top (using my UNiDAYS discount) or a chocolate bar, depending on how much it was!
The first few weeks may feel mind-boggling, or the last few weeks of term might be the most boring if you’ve ran out of money, but you will soon enough find a way that works for you and gain a huge sense of independence! If you are still struggling, The Student Finance Team can be contacted by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 0151 291 3435. There is also a Student Development and Well-being team who are on hand to help with any issues on email@example.com or 0151 291 3427.
By Hannah Scowby.