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By Michelle Lillywhite

2nd year BU Student, BA (Hons) Social Work

Now that UCAS has been completed you need to think about student finance and making your application. The great thing about this is that you can get your finance agreed before you have accepted a place to study so you can get yourself organised with this early.

The website you need is GOV.UK and it takes you through everything you need to know! It covers the three main elements of a tuition loan, maintenance loan and maintenance grant. But which one do we pay back and which one don’t we have to – easy! If it says loan you have to pay it back, if it says grant – you don’t! Now not everyone will be able to get a grant as this will depend on your personal circumstances – but if there is something you don’t understand then you can always ring student finance and ask them and they are very helpful.  

Its best to sit down and fill in everything that is asked for, your parents/carer will need to use a log in to put in their financial information too. Always make a note of your reference number as this is generated by the student finance website and is about 11 digits long – I am about to make my third application and I can never remember it!

Part of the application will ask for identification to prove who you are like your birth certificate and/or passport. My advice when you send this off is to make sure you include a self-addressed pre-paid special delivery envelope (post office staff can help you do this), it costs about £5 but worth making sure important documents don’t get lost in the post – plus you will need to send these in to the university too so keep them handy at home.

It’s a very simple process but can feel clumsy as you do everything online – once you have your details back you know how much you are eligible for and the only thing you need to do is update the application once you have confirmed a place at university.

When you officially enrol the university will confirm with student finance that you have started the course and they will send you your first payment within about 10 days (make sure you have money to cover this time as it will feel like the longest 10 days of your life!) – then you can go shopping and go spending! NOT! Remember this money has to last all term. It doesn’t hurt to give yourself a reality check and work out the number of weeks until your next payment and do a little division. If you are getting £1,200 a term and its 14 weeks till the next finance payment that leaves you £85 a week – then you have to consider what this has to pay for – budgeting is going to be essential!

At BU, during fresher’s, sessions are run to help people think about shopping on a budget, managing money so that you can afford that cool new top, a night out and a text book or two along the way – go along as you might learn something new that can help you stretch the money just a little bit further. BU also offers loans and bursaries, so check these out to see if you are eligible for a few extra pennies.

It’s quite liberating getting this big influx of money each term and exciting too – each year you have to make a new application (without sending in ID) and by the third year application you will be doing it in your sleep!!

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