Confused by all the talk of student fees, inadequate maintenance loans and volatile interest rates on student finance repayments?

Believe us when we say you’re not alone; the jungle that is student finance can be incredibly confusing, especially when you’re already trying to work out where to go to university, or if higher education is even for you.

We want to make it easier for you, which is why we’ve created a definitive guide to student loans and cutting back on costs.


First things first, what is a student loan?

Student loans are calculated in two parts. The first block covers tuition fees, costing up to £9,250 a year. The second is for living costs, and depends on where the course is and, crucially, how much your parents earn.

The maximum you could get outside London is £8,430. Say accommodation costs £5,000; that would leave you with just £88 a week for the 39-week academic year to cover food, travel, clothes, phone bills and books.

If your parents earn more than £69,803, this would make them among the highest earners, and they will be expected to give you more than £5,300 a year to make up the shortfall.

Unfortunately, deciding to go to university and take out a student loan is only the first hurdle. Once you’re there the real battle starts – budgeting. It doesn’t sound fun, because it isn’t.


Scared you won’t survive? Follow these tips on making your money stretch further 

1. Ask your parents for help budgeting

And if your parents are no use, Save the Student, a money-saving website run by students and graduates, is a helpful source of tips for campus life.


2. Stay at home after spending your first year in halls  

More than a quarter of UK students live at home. Stay in halls for the first year to make friends, then move back home for the rest of your course if your university isn’t too far away. Bonus? You can get home cooked meals and a free washing up service.


3. Take on a part time job

Even the most academic universities recognise students might need to work. LSE, for example, allows 15 hours’ work a week during the term and full-time work in the holidays.