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Tumi Taiwo, English Literature with Creative Writing at the University of Surrey 

I remember when university fees shot up as a result of this there were riots and discussions, dropouts and a lot of fear. How could we now survive and pursue higher education? At the time, I did not really recognise the effect this would have on me…until it was time to start university.

Fortunately we haven’t been left up in the air wondering how on earth we could raise enough money for a three year course. As a student, we can apply for financial aid through Student Finance. Applying for student finance will cover university tuition and also lend us money to assist in our survival at university.

Do remember that this is a loan, which means at some point, it will have to be paid back. Tuition fee loans and maintenance loans will have to be paid back but not any grants or bursaries. At Surrey, there are vast offers of grants, scholarships and financial aid which are very helpful and with their different requirements; the offers are not limited to certain students.

As university timetables are flexible, getting a part time job is a great way to keep your bank account afloat and your mind at ease. I had a part time job, working with my university as a student ambassador.

In the first year of university as a student living away from home, whether maths students or not, we learn the value of money and the importance of spending.  Seeing a large sum of money in your account may be exciting but it is important to rein the excitement in and not act on impulse.Here are some tips that I implemented with my spending.

Top Tips on Budgeting

  • Before you do anything else, pay all of your bills.
  • At the beginning of semester, do a big shop and buy all your staples. Your staples should be anything that can last for long and you do not have to keep buying, for example cereal, cleaning products, ink for your printer… My washing up liquid lasted me throughout my whole academic year. Talk about economical!
  • Get a loyalty card – stack up those points and watch the discounts kick in. They will be helpful for your weekly shop.
  • Set a budget for your weekly shop and stick to it.
  • Save! Save! Save! Put money aside, no matter how big or small. During exam season you may not have time to be cooking. Your emergency fund will come in handy – trust me.
  • Look out for sales and take advantage of student discounts.
  • You can have fun without spending money; check out free things to do in your town.
  • Spend within your means. Don’t spend like you get £10,000 a term; spend within the amount you receive. For example, would it be wise to spend £200 on a bag or £20 with the amount of money you get? The time will come when you can afford to put down £200 on a bag but I don’t think it is with student loan money! 


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