Student finance refers to money loaned by the government to students to cover the cost of their tuition fees and go towards their living costs. You have two types of loans: the tuition fee loan and the maintenance loan. In this blog, I will focus on the day-to-day costs of being a student and how to maximise your maintenance loan.
As a student from Wales, I have greatly benefited from our extremely generous student finance system. The Student Finance Wales maintenance loan for the 2023/2024 academic year for Bath students is £11,720. This £11,720 is a partial loan and a partial grant, depending on your household income. This amount is given in three instalments during the year, typically at the beginning of each semester in September, January, and April. To see how much you are eligible for, use the link below:
To budget, I like to split my costs into fixed and variable costs. My fixed costs are things such as rent, bills and transport costs. My variable costs include groceries, eating out, clothes shopping and any other activities. I track all my costs using an excel sheet which I update weekly.
My fixed costs for this academic year are £550 a month on rent, £80 a month on energy bills and £50 on transport. My annual fixed cost will come to £6,600 on rent, £640 on energy bills and £400 on transport. My annual rent is based on 12 months, while my energy and transportation bills are based on the 8 months I’ll be studying in Bath for. This amounts to an annual cost of £7,640.
To budget, I’ll then take my maintenance loan (£11,720) and subtract my annual fixed costs for the year (£7,640). This leaves us a budget of £4,080 to cover our variable costs for the year.
As I now know my budget for my variable costs annually, I would then break it down further to give me a weekly budget. Therefore, my annual budget (£4,080) is divided by the number of weeks in the academic term (29 weeks excluding semester vacations).
This would give me a weekly budget of £140.68 per week. The weekly budget gives me a target for my maximum spending for the week and helps me understand if I’m overspending or saving.
I would typically spend between £50-£75 on my weekly shop, which would include groceries, toiletries and any other necessities. The amount obviously changes weekly, depending on when I run out of things like toothpaste etc. To keep your grocery bill down, buying in bulk or items with short expiration dates should help your money go further.
My main two hobbies are running and football. Football costs me £40 a year with the SU, which is far cheaper than my £200 a year subscription to my hometown club! Running around the beautiful city of Bath is free and costs me nothing. For budget purposes, we’ll include that I buy a new pair of running and football shoes at the start of the year, which costs me £250. Therefore, my weekly cost for my hobbies is £10 (£290 divided by 29 weeks).
I typically aim to try and save anywhere between 5% and 10% which would be £7.03-£14.06 a week. By adding ‘savings’ as part of your variable cost it makes you feel as if you can’t spend that extra £7.03-£14.06 a week. Saving is hugely important at University as it gives you flexibility to enjoy trips, holidays or one off emergency purchases (Laptop, phone etc).
Socialising is a massive part of university life. University allows you to meet new friends who share the same interests as you and to build a network for your professional career. Therefore, I always like to leave my budget for socialising last, as this cost truly does vary depending on what your friends fancy doing. Therefore, with a weekly budget of £140.68, we subtract £50-£75 for grocery shopping, £10 on hobbies and £7.03-£14.06 a week on savings. This leaves us with £66.62-£73.65 to budget for socialising a week. This is more than enough to afford your weekly catch-ups in coffee shops, pubs and going out. Typically, I spend £25-£50 on socialising a week and therefore, I would save the difference I’ve accounted for.
I also work for the university as a Student Ambassador. This role is perfect for me, as I can reduce my hours during busy study times or increase my hours when I have free time or need extra income. This role gives me an additional £25 a week; however, there’s potential to earn £50 a week or more. I usually save the £25 a week to build my savings for travel or, again, to buy an emergency one-time purchase if my phone or laptop breaks.
Additionally, there are plenty of other roles in the university, which include working at the Student Union’s bar, the dining halls and in other ambassador-type roles.
To maximise your income while at university, make sure to explore all the scholarships and bursaries available. The scholarships will state the criteria needed to qualify for them, and after that, you will be eligible to receive them. The Gold Scholarship at the University offers you £5,000 a year to help you with your studies. This is a significant amount and it will help any student immensely! There are also many multi-national companies (MNC’s) that offer scholarships for students and will even provide paid internships for the students in the summer. These are also fantastic opportunities to build your savings in the summer.