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Budgeting

Managing on a student budget can be hard; you have regular outgoings and irregular income. The trick is to plan and budget!

A budget contains all your income and your expected expenditure for a specific period of time - it could be weekly, monthly or maybe a termly basis.

Having a budget can help you manage your spending by encouraging you to set aside the money you need to cover essentials like rent, whilst showing you the amount you have leftover to spend on other things on a day-to-day basis. 

National Debtline has a good financial guide for students, which you may also want to read.

 

How do I calculate a budget?

There are some great online budget calculators that can help you plan your budget and play around with it to see what you might be able to change if your expenditure is too high.

National Debtline -   you can also print out the budget sheet and you can speak to one of their advisers for free.

Money Advice Service - they also offer a free money advice service.

You can also download our budget calculator at the bottom of this page, which includes some more student-centred categories!

 

What are my potential sources of income?

If you're claiming Student Finance, make sure you're getting your full  entitlement. Most students are classed as dependent on their parents, so get your parents fill in an income assessment to potentially increase your maintenance loan. If you have any dependants of your own such as children you may be able to claim Parents' Learning Allowance, Childcare Grant, or Adult Dependants' Grant.  

The most common way for students to get more income is through a part-time job. The University has a jobs database that can help you find jobs on campus and in the local area.

Most full-time students are not able to claim benefits but there are some exceptions, mostly for parents and those with disabilities. You can read more on our Benefits page.

We also have information about further financial support available to parents and to disabled students on their respective pages.

There are a few bursaries and scholarships available through the university, depending on your circumstances and subject. This page has a link to university funds. There are also some bursaries and scholarships for international students.Some charities organisations offer grants and scholarships. Eligibility for grants, bursaries and scholarships can depend upon if you are a home or international student, in full or part-time study or if you are an undergraduate or postgraduate so check guidance carefully. If you are unsure about your eligibility for an award then contact the provider directly for clarification. 

 

Are there any tips for managing my expenditure?

Sites like Moneysavingexpert have many great tips and deals but here are some of the most useful ones for students!

 

enlightenedFood

Cooking for yourself or with your housemates is cheaper and healthier than eating out and getting takeaways; if you're sharing meals with your housemates it will lower the cost even more. Plan your menu for the week, make a shopping list and stick to it! This will make sure you only buy what you need and less food will go to waste. You can also shop around for for the best prices using sites and apps like Latest Deals.

Supermarket own brands, particularly their value brands, are cheaper and often even preferred by consumers in blind taste tests. Try sampling a value version for one shop and see if you like it - even if you prefer the brand, you may still find the difference in price makes up for it. 

Take a packed lunch to your classes or work and bring your drinks in a flask or reusable bottle - it will be cheaper than buying sandwiches and coffees on campus every day.               

Asda and Sainsbury's do Meal Ticket Cards where a parent or guardian can put money on the card and the student can spend the money on food and hardware. 

 

enlightenedShopping

Student discount sites and apps like NUS's TotumStudent BeansMy Uni DaysSave the StudentMy Student Discount and Student Money Saver give student deals. You can register as a student using your Keele email address and some of their apps can be used as student ID.

Many restaurants, entertainment venues and shops also offer student discount if you show your student ID so look out for this on their websites or in the buildings.

Freecycle is a useful resource for local people to list items they are giving away. There is also the Facebook marketplace.

Books for your course are usually very expensive when brand new but they can often be bought second hand from previous students, so check out local charity shops and look online for discounted textbooks before you spend your money.

 

enlightenedMedicine and Health Bills

Don’t pay extra for brands or for medication that claims to target one type of pain - more basic medicine can be  cheaper than brands even though the ingredients are identical.

Take care when buying medication for a specific type of pain. If you look at what's in the medication you will find many of them have the exact same content yet claim to be for pain different areas - often the same brand will just use different packaging and charge more for the same pills. 

If you're on low income, The NHS Low Income Scheme can help you cover health-related costs on the NHS such as travel, prescriptions, dental and optician’s bills. To apply, download the HC1 form, complete it and return it to the NHS.

 

enlightenedTravel

Local bus services offer a bus ticket called the 'Keele Key' for students and staff, to lower the cost of travelling locally. You can read about the scheme on the University website.

16-25 railcard gives a third off train tickets in the UK and comes with some bonus offers. It’s also available to full-time students over the age of 26. It does cost some money but you can save some by buying a three-year card and by buying online. Some banks also offer free railcards if you open a student account with them.

National Express's Young Persons Coach Card gives a third off standard and fully flexible coach tickets for those aged 16 - 26 or in full-time education.

 

Is there any support for me if I'm in financial hardship?

The university has a hardship fund that you can apply to if you are in hardship. There is an application form to fill in and you need to show your bank accounts as evidence. There are also smaller emergency loans available, but you would have to pay those back. The fund and loans are administered by Student Services and you can visit their page for more information.