A few things have happened recently that have got me thinking back to student life. The first was a conversation about running. Might seem innocent enough but I was asked to help plan a route for a run in London. It then struck me that I have not lived in London since I was a student over 10 years ago.
10 years made me feel quite old, and that is over 10 years in fact getting close to 15! I went to two universities one to do my Bachelors, London and the other for my Masters Huddersfield and had quite different experiences at both.
In London I rented a house initially with a few friends and then in my final year with one of my closest friends. Our rent alone was £900 a month, accompanied with bills and food student living was not easy. The second thing that got me thinking back to these days was a conversation on twitter, where we discussed a weekly food shop for £8 that their student daughter had just done. I don't think an £8 food shop was even possible back in London.
Whilst at Huddersfield I lived at home and so had much less financial outgoings but my work load was the same, 28-30 hours in lectures plus lab time and own study time. Engineering requires a lot of hard work. Which made it hard to find a part time job to earn extra income. I was very lucky with my Masters that I had secured sponsorship so my tuition fees had been taken care of which meant I left after my Masters owing nothing.
My Bachelor degree was completely different. I left with a debt of over £24,000. This is huge and whilst student loans can be paid off through earnings it is still a weight on your shoulders. Trying to save money to buy or rent your own house, pay of a loan and find your feet in the world of work can be a tricky task. It requires careful planning and sacrifices and thinking ahead.
I finally paid off my student loan 2 years ago and the relief was immense, it felt as if a huge weight had been lifted. My plan was to pay it off before I hit 35 and I achieved this. My advise to any new students is:
1. Your student loan is to last you the whole term, don't spend it all in the first week [A few of my friends did this in their first year and really struggled the rest of term]
2. Set yourself a budget each week for certain items, food, bills, rent etc and any left at the end of the week decide if you want to save it, spend it or add it to the next week.
3. Enjoy uni. Most important enjoy uni. It was some of the best years of my life.
This post is written in collaboration with TSB.