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Money Matters

An essential Freshers' guide to managing financially at University

So, it’s your first year at University of Sunderland – we hope you have a great time and enjoy your studies here. Here is some information about student finance and managing your money that will hopefully make your time at University as financially stress-free as possible.

Student Finance

The majority of UK full-time students are funded by Student Finance which provides assistance with paying tuition fees, a maintenance loan and certain other grants, depending on your circumstances. You can find more details here.

The University sets your tuition fee, and the tuition fee loan is paid directly to the University.  Depending on when your course commences, your student finance funding for your living costs should be paid directly into your bank account at the start of each term.

If your student finance funding is going to be delayed, you should contact Student Finance to chase up your application, ask for the reason for the delay and get an expected timescale for you receiving your money.  If the delay will not be manageable, don’t panic - come and see us at Student Financial Guidance – we’ll assess your situation, contact Student Finance England (or the equivalent) if required, inform you of your options and help you decide on an action plan. 

You can find further information here if you are expecting your funding to be delayed.

Budgeting

Budgeting may sound boring – but it’s a much better idea than getting to November and finding that you only have £20.00 to last until January!  Here's an easy budgeting calculation:

Student finance payment ÷ number of weeks until next student finance payment 

= amount of money for you to spend each week

If you’d like some help in getting started with budgeting, have a look at Keeping track, plus feel free to contact us and we can either arrange a one-to-one session, or, if there are enough enquiries, a workshop for a group of students.

PANDA budgeting tool

PANDA is a free budgeting tool and available solely for University of Sunderland students as part of the University of Sunderland app, which also includes campus travel timetables, library/course info and much more.

PANDA will allow you to enter your income and outgoings over a term and calculate how much money you will have left, which can then be shown as a daily, weekly or monthly amount. This helps you keep an eye on your spending, and allows you to keep to a budget so that you do not overspend and get into financial difficulty.

Download the University of Sunderland mobile app here and start using PANDA now!

Student bank accounts

It’s a good idea to use a student bank account to get your Student Finance paid into.  Most have zero interest overdraft facilities, so this can be good for use in emergencies. Some banks may offer freebies, such as rail-cards, vouchers, etc.  It’s worth researching for the best deals – you could try MoneySavingExpert to help decide what’s right for you. 

Common problems

Here are some of the common problems that the Student Financial Guidance team regularly come across with First Year Students, with some suggested solutions.

ProblemSolution
Paying off debts with grant & loan Seek specialist debt advice from non-fee paying advice services
Buying an expensive laptop computer Try shopping around for the best deal for a laptop relevant to your course needs. Or you could borrow a laptop from University
Not confident managing money Check Keeping track and if you need some further guidance with this contact or call into see us
Using expensive loans if student finance funding has been delayed or all spent What to do if your student funding will be late or if you are experiencing financial hardship
All money spent early in the term Keeping track of your spending can help prevent this from happening, including using PANDA budgeting tool that helps you see what money you have coming in and how much money you have to spend.

 

Financial hardship

We hope that no student suffers financial hardship during their studies at University of Sunderland, but circumstances can change or unexpected costs can happen.

If you do find yourself struggling financially, then please contact or call into see us. It's always best to deal with financial difficulties as soon as possible to prevent the problem from getting worse, or so that any hardship funding applications such as the University Hardship Fund have time to be processed.

Also, check dealing with debt, which includes frequently asked questions about debt and details of free advice agencies who can help to negotiate with creditors on your behalf.

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