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The Money Guide


Contents

Introduction...

Student Support

02

Tuition fees

02

Help towards living costs

03

University Bursaries

04

Additonal Support

04

Arrangements for other courses

06

NHS Bursaries

06

Seconded students

06

Part-time students

07

Postgraduate students

07

Extra help from the University

08

Access to Learning Fund

08

Student Hardship Fund

08

Benefits

09

Tax Credits

09

Council Tax

10

Career Development Loans

10

Charities and Trusts

11

Banks and Building Societies

12

Employment and Tax

12

Income Tax

12

National Insurance

12

Budgeting

13

Credit Cards

13

Store Cards

13

Debit Cards

13

Debt

13

Useful Contacts

14

As a student you’ll inevitably have to make the most of a very tight budget. Each year many students find themselves facing financial difficulties but being prepared and knowing where to get help if you need it can help you get any problems sorted quickly. We’ve produced this guide to help make sense of the student funding system and to give you ideas for dealing with any money worries that do arise. If you’d like specific advice for your personal circumstances or need some help with managing your finances, please contact the Advice Centre.


Student Support... You may be aware that recently changes were made to the funding students receive. The funding you will receive will depend on whether you started your course before or after the 1st September 2006. The information below is a general guide to what you may be entitled to but if you would like advice specific to your personal situation, please contact the Advice Centre. The information in this section applies to all fulltime students on courses of higher education and who meet the residence requirements. The rules concerning student support entitlement are complicated and it is advisable to contact the Advice Centre for more detailed information. You can also find information in the Department for Education and Skills booklet ‘A guide to financial support for higher education students’ (available from the Advice Centre) or online at www.dfes. gov.uk/studentsupport.

Tuition Fees New Students Students starting a new course in 2007/8 will be covered by the provisions for new students as will most students who started in 2006/7. If you started your course before September 2006 or you took a gap year and deferred your place at Uni before 1st August 2005 you are likely to be assessed using the old student finance regulations. From 2006/7 the Government allowed universities to decide how much to charge their students in fees, for 2007/8 this will be up to a maximum of £3070. The fee for all undergraduate courses at Birmingham City University will be £3070 per academic year, or £1225 per year for HND or Foundation Degree courses.

Although you can pay your fees yourself each year if you wish, eligible students can take out a fee loan to cover the cost of their fees. This means your fees will be paid for you by the Student Loans Company and you won’t have to pay them back until you have completed or left your course and are earning a certain amount. To apply for a Fee Loan, you will need to apply to your Local Education Authority. Continuing students If you started your course before September 2006 or are assessed under the old regulations for any other reason, you will be asked to pay tuition fees of £1225 for 2007/8. You are also eligible for a fee loan to defer payment. This means the Student Loans Company will pay your fees and you will not have to repay them until you complete or leave the course and are earning a certain amount. EU Students If you are an EU student on a fulltime course and you started you course after September 2006 you can apply for financial help towards your tuition fees. For 2007/8 you can apply for a tuition fee loan of up to £3070. If you started your course before September 2006 you can apply for an income assessed grant for tuition fees of a maximum £1,225. If you are not eligible for all or part of the tuition fee grant you can apply for a tuition fee loan to cover the difference (up to a maximum £1,225). Overseas students If you are an overseas student you will not be eligible for a fee loan and will therefore have to pay your fees during your course. For the academic year 2007/8 the Universitys’ fees range from £5,250 for Foundation-level courses to £10,300 for selected degrees such as the MBA and MMus, according to the costs involved. The majority of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees cost £8,500 per annum. For more information about your specific course fees, check with your Faculty Office.

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How to apply For help towards tuition fees, ‘home’ students should apply to their Local Education Authority (LEA). Contact details for your LEA can be found on the Department for Education and Skills website (see useful contacts section). Alternatively you can apply online at www. studentfinancedirect.co.uk.

civil partnership, you can show you have supported yourself for at least three years before your course started, or you have no living parents. If you are an independent student, your local authority will take into account your income and that of any spouse or live-in partner (including same sex) in the same way as for dependent students.

If you are from Scotland you should apply to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (www. student-support-saas.gov.uk). Students from Northern Ireland should apply to their local Education and Library Board – see the Department for Employment and Learning website (www.delni. gov.uk) for contact details. EU students should apply to the Department for Education and Employment (DfES) European Team (see useful contacts section).

New Students (started after September 2006)

Help towards living costs Any help you may receive towards living costs is ‘means-tested’, which means the LEA will look at your income and that of other relevant people to determine what you are entitled to. Generally if you are under 25 at the beginning of the academic year and are financially dependent on one or both of your parents (even if you don’t live with them) you will be classed as a dependent student. Your local authority will take into account the income of any adults in your household including resident parents, step parents, civil partners or live-in partners (including one of the same sex if you started your course in 2005/2006 or later) They will also take into account your own income (this includes non-earned income such as interest from savings, but not casual or part-time earnings during your course). Generally, you will be classed as independent if you fall into at least one of the following groups: You have care of a child (or children), you are 25 or over before your course starts, you are married or in a

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Maintenance Grant New students will be eligible to apply for a maintenance grant to help with the cost of studying. The amount you receive depends on your and your family’s income but the maximum amount is £2,765. If your household income is less than £17,910 per year you will receive the full grant. Students with a household income of more than £38,300 will not receive a grant but if your income is between these figures you will receive a partial grant. You will not have to pay back any maintenance grant you receive. Special Support Grant New students who may be eligible to receive means-tested welfare benefits (generally lone parents or disabled students) may receive the Special Support Grant to cover course costs. This grant is instead of the Maintenance Grant and will not be taken into account in calculating your benefits. Student loan for Maintenance The student loan is intended to help with living costs during your course. 75% of the loan is non-means tested so all eligible students will receive this. The remaining 25% is means-tested so again will depend on your household income. Your loan will be paid in instalments each term but you will not have to pay it back until you have completed or left your course and are earning. The maximum loan you will receive is £4,510 (or £3,495 if you live with your parents during term-time). If you are in your final year in 2007/8 then the maximum loan you will receive is £4,175 or £3,155 if you live with your parents during term time.


If you receive the maintenance grant, you will receive £1 less student loan for each £1 of maintenance grant you get which reduces the amount of loan that you will have to pay back once you graduate. This is up to a maximum of £1,200 so even if you receive the full grant you will only have £1,200 deducted from your loan. If you receive the special support grant, nothing will be deducted from your loan. University Bursaries As part of the fee structure reform, government legislation requires that Universities who chose to charge the maximum tuition fee rate of £3070 must offer a non repayable bursary to students who qualify for the full maintenance grant (students whose family income is under £17,910). Birmingham City University has chosen to pay bursaries to students who are eligible for any part of the maintenance grant (students whose family income is under £38,330). There are two types of bursary available to eligible students here at Birmingham City University, the Study Bursary of £305 and the Assessment Bursary of £207. You do not need to complete a separate application form for these bursaries. However, you and if appropriate your parents or legal guardians must have signed the Bursary Consent Statement on the application for Student Finance form to allow your details to be shared with the University. If you have not done this your bursaries cannot be paid into your bank account. The Study Bursary (£305) If you are eligible and begin, or re-enrol, on your course in September 2007 and are still in attendance at the University on 1 December 2007, your Study Bursary will be paid directly into your bank account by the Student Loans Company. This payment will normally be made by 28 February 2008. If you are eligible and begin, or re-enrol, on your course of study in January 2008 and are still in attendance at

the University on 1 May 2008, your Study Bursary will be paid directly into your bank account by the SLC. This payment will normally be made by 15 June 2008. The Assessment Bursary (£207) If you are eligible and begin, or re-enrol, on your course of study in September 2007 and attempt all of the assessments for which you are registered in 2007/08, you will receive an Assessment Bursary of £207. This will be paid directly into your bank account normally by 31 August 2008. Eligible students who begin, or re-enrol, on their course in January 2008 who attempt all of the assessments for which they are registered will receive an Assessment Bursary of £207. This will be paid directly into your bank account, normally by 31 December 2008.

Additional Support Higher education grant If you started your course in 2004 or later you may be entitled for a higher education grant of up to £1,000. This help is means tested so if your household income is less that £16,340 you will receive the full grant, reducing dependent on income. If your income is more than £22,326 you will not be entitled to the grant. Student loans for maintenance Like new students you will be entitled to a student loan to pay for living costs. The arrangements are the same as for new students; however no deductions will be made because of any other funding you receive. Continues on next page >

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Additional Support Cont...

or approved childcare provider who is:

Some students may be entitled to additional help depending on their circumstances:

• your partner

• Parents’ Learning Allowance: this is a means tested grant of up to £1,435 to help with course related costs for students with dependent children. It is paid in three instalments with your Student Loan and, you will not have to repay this grant. • Childcare Grant (see below) • Disabled Students’ Allowance (available to both full-time and part-time students). Further info available in the DFES booklet Bridging the Gap: a guide to the Disabled Students’ Allowances in higher education 2005/06. • Adult Dependants’ Grant: means tested grant paid to some students who have a spouse/partner or adult family member financially dependent on them. This can be up to £2,510 per year. Childcare Grant This is a means-tested grant for those students with dependant children to cover child care costs. The amount you get will depend on your actual childcare costs. Who can apply? Full-time students with dependant children in registered or accredited childcare are eligible to apply. This could either be childcare by a childminder, nursery or play scheme registered by Ofsted or a child care provider registered on the new voluntary part of the Ofsted Register. From September 2007 the Childcare Grant can also cover the cost of: out-of-hours clubs run by a school or a local authority on school grounds; childcare provided by a care worker registered with the National Care Standards Commission (this type of childcare can be in the child’s own home); care provided by an approved foster carer, if the foster carer is not the foster parent of the child. From September 2007, you will not be able to receive the Childcare Grant if you use a registered

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• a relative of your child and providing care in your child’s own home • a relative of your child, is approved under the Childcare Approval Scheme, is providing care away from your child’s home, and is only caring for children he or she is related to. (A relative of the child means a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother or sister related by blood or marriage, or living arrangements (for example a step brother or sister where the parents aren’t married).

In addition if you or your partner is claiming the child care element of Working Tax Credit from the Inland Revenue you are not eligible for the grant, as this contains a childcare element. How much can I apply for? 85% of actual costs will be paid throughout the whole year, up to a maximum amount. The maximum amounts in 2007/8 are £175 a week for a single child and £300 for two or more children. How will it be paid? The grant is paid in 3 instalments throughout the year along with any student loan payments. Any grant made will not be taken into account when calculating benefit entitlement. You will not have to repay the grant. Entitlement to all the above supplementary grants will be assessed by your LEA. Contact the Advice Centre for more detailed information. You can also get further info from the DFES publication Childcare Grant and other support for student parents in higher education. Child care – Care to Learn: assistance if you are under 19 If you are a student parent, will be under 20 on 1/8/06 and are on either a full/part time course for further or higher education you can claim for help towards the cost of registered child care. This could be up to £145 per week plus travel costs to and from the child carer. For more information see www.dfes.gov.uk/caretolearn.


Arrangements for other courses... NHS Bursaries In order to gain a place on an NHS funded course and to be eligible for a bursary you need to meet certain residence requirements (contact the Advice Centre for more information). Bursaries are available for full or part-time pre-registration courses such as Nursing, Midwifery and Radiography and for degree and postgraduate level courses. If eligible, the NHS will pay your tuition fees and you will receive a monthly bursary. Non-means tested bursary 2007. DIPLOMA course e.g.- DipHE Nursing, Grad Dip Nursing, Operating Department Practitioners. If you are studying one of the above courses you are eligible for a non means tested bursary. You are not able to get a student loan. The basic bursary rate for 2007/8 will be £6,122 per year for existing students and £6,372 per year for new students whether you are living away from home or with your parents. This is calculated on the assumption that you will be attending your course for 45 weeks during the academic year. You will also receive a one-off payment of £55 at the start of your course. Means-tested bursary 2007. DEGREE and Post Graduate Courses e.g.Nursing, Midwifery, Speech Therapy Students studying these courses are eligible for a meanstested bursary. The basic bursary rate in 2007/8 is £2,422 for existing students and £2,672 for new students. If you live with your parents during your course your basic bursary will be £1,981 if you are an existing student and £2,231 if you are new. If the length of your course exceeds 30 weeks and 3 days in the academic year you will also receive an additional allowance of £78 per week (£52 if you live at home) for each of the extra weeks when you have to attend your course. If your course lasts for more than 45 weeks you will receive an allowance for all 52 weeks of the year. A contribution may be required from your income or your family’s so your bursary may be less than these amounts.

If you are on a full-time degree course you are also eligible to apply for a reduced-rate student loan from your LEA to help towards your living costs. For 2007/8 this will be £2,672 or £2,231 if you live with your parents. This amount is not means-tested but if you have received funding for a previous course your entitlement to this loan may be affected. Additional funds Students in receipt of either type of bursary may also be entitled to various additions depending on their circumstances. If you have dependents or have a disability you may receive extra money. Funds to meet the costs of two homes or practice placements may also be available. You are also eligible to apply to the Access to Learning Fund. Please contact the Advice Centre for more details. For more information see the Nursing Students Guide or visit www.nhsstudentgrants.co.uk.

Seconded Students Some students on NHS courses are ‘seconded’ from their employer, who pays them a wage whilst they are studying. If you are a seconded student you will not be entitled to receive an NHS bursary. Seconded students are entitled to apply for a student loan in the same way as students on non-NHS courses. You should apply through your LEA. Seconded students are also entitled to receive supplementary grants, such as the Disabled Students Allowance and can also apply to the Access to Learning Fund. As a seconded student you may also be eligible to apply for Working Tax Credit, as your income is classed as a wage. You will need to meet the eligibility criteria for WTC. For more information contact the Advice Centre or visit www. inlandrevenue.gov.uk.

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Part-time Students Part-time students who are studying 50% or more of the equivalent full-time course can apply for financial support. Whether you are a continuing or new student you may be entitled to receive: • A course grant of up to £250 towards travel, books and other course costs. • A fee grant to help pay your course fees. The amount you may receive depends on the percentage of a full-time course you are studying. Students studying 50-59% of the equivalent fulltime course may receive up to £765. If you’re studying 60-74% of a full-time course you could receive up to £920 and if you’re studying more than 75% you could receive up to £1150. If you receive a fee grant but your fees are more than the support available to you, there may be additional help available from the University. Part-time students studying 50% or more of the full-time equivalent course may also be able to apply for the Access to Learning Fund. However, because part-time students have the option to work or claim benefits the University is only able to assist with course-related costs, such as books, travel and childcare, and not living costs. If you have a disability you can apply for a Disabled Students Allowance, a non means tested payment (apply to your home LEA using a DSA1 form). You may be eligible for state benefits such as Council Tax Benefit, Housing Benefit or Incapacity Benefit. You may also be able to claim Job Seekers Allowance if you can show that you are still available for and actively seeking work. Contact your local Job Centre or the Advice Centre for details.

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Postgraduate Students Many students are now choosing to take postgraduate courses to further their interest in a subject or increase their employability. However, funding a postgraduate course can be difficult, as no help is available from your local LEA or the Student Loans Company. Possible sources of funding include: • Research Councils – these are government funded agencies that provide funding for research in various subjects. They can provide studentships for a limited number of students and there are criteria in terms of course type, undergraduate degree results and research area. See www. prospects.ac.uk and www.rcuk.ac.uk. • Sponsorship from an employer • Career Development Loans (see below) • Professional Studies or Graduate Loans – many banks and building societies offer loans at preferential rates to students undertaking postgraduate studies. • Charities and Trusts (see below) • Part time employment or study It may also be helpful to ask members of staff in your faculty if they are aware of any organisations that assist with funding in your specific subject area.


Extra help from the University... Access to Learning Fund This fund is an amount of money given to the University by the Government to be allocated to individual students in need. Most students are eligible to apply but there are the following exceptions who are not: • Part time students studying for less than 50% (25% if disabled) of a full time course (usually 60 credits); • Overseas students (however European Community students classified as migrant workers or who are the children of migrant workers may apply); • Any student who is entitled to sources of funding (e.g.- a student loan or professional studies loans for postgraduates etc) but who has chosen not to access that source of funding. Priority is given to certain groups of students such as students with children or disabled students. However, individual need should always be taken into account. You can pick up a Student Finance Application Form from Student Services, you Faculty Office, the Advice Centre and any Students’ Union office. Forms should then be returned to Student Services. For further advice or to have your form checked prior to handing in, contact the Advice Centre. You can apply to the fund at any point during the academic year until the fund closes but there are deadlines towards the end of each term to make sure your claim is assessed before the vacation. You should apply as early as you can and not wait until you are very short of money to do so. Once you’ve applied you should receive a written decision and any payment within 4 weeks providing you have included all the required evidence with your application.

If you’re unhappy with the decision, you should first complete a re-assessment form, available from Student Services, to ask for your circumstances to be reconsidered. If you are unhappy with the decision following the reassessment you should attend a drop-in session at Student Services and request a review. If you are unhappy with the outcome of this you can appeal to the Welfare Services Manager. For advice and assistance on this matter contact the Advice Centre. Short-term Loans Student Services can provide short-term loans to students whose funding is delayed at the beginning of a term. You will be expected to have exhausted all other possible sources of financial help such as your bank before applying for a short-term loan. The loan does not incur interest but you are expected to repay it when your funding arrives. Application forms are available from Student Services and the Advice Centre.

The Student Hardship Fund This is a much smaller fund provided by the University to assist those students who are excluded from applying to the Access to Learning Fund. Any awards made are usually very small and you should be able to demonstrate very exceptional circumstances. The Fund should not be relied upon as part of your regular budgeting. Only those students who are not eligible for assistance from the Access to Learning Fund can apply (e.g. international students). Applications can be made by completing a Student Finance Application Form. These are available from Student Services, Faculty Offices, the Advice Centre and any Union of Students’ office. However, it is advisable to consult an advisor in the Advice Centre or Student Services before applying to the Fund. There is no set deadline but the Fund is allocated depending on availability at the time of application.

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Benefits

Tax Credits

Can I apply for any benefits as a full-time student? Most full-time students are not eligible to claim means-tested benefits such as Income Support, Housing Benefit and Job Seeker’s Allowance. However, certain students in vulnerable groups including lone parents and disabled students may still be eligible to apply. If you have a partner who is not a full-time student, they might be able to claim certain benefits for you. Whether or not eligible students will receive any benefit depends upon their individual financial situation when applying.

Students who are responsible for a child under 16 (or 18 if in full-time education) may be able to claim Child Tax Credit. You do not have to be working to claim this and payments will be made to the child’s main carer. The amount you may receive depends on your income and there is also an additional payment available for babies in the first year of the child’s life.

If you are entitled to a non-means tested benefit, such as Disability Living Allowance or Child Benefit, you will be able to continue receiving this whilst you are studying. If you think that you may be eligible for any benefits and would like further information and advice, contact the Advice Centre. What about help towards the costs of prescriptions, etc.? Full-time students are not automatically exempt from paying NHS charges such as prescriptions and dental treatment. However, you can apply for help towards such costs by filling in form HC1, and you may be granted exemption depending on your income. These are available from the Advice Centre, Student Services or from your doctor/dentist/optician.

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Some students may also be eligible for Working Tax Credit. If you are working over 16 hours a week you may be able to claim, depending on your personal circumstances. Claims for both types of tax credit can be made via the online claim form on the Tax Credit website www.hmrc.gov.uk. Alternatively, paper claim forms can be requested by telephoning 0845 300 3900.


Council Tax Full time students are not ‘visible’ for council tax purposes, which means the council will ignore you when considering the number of adults in a property. If you live only with other full-time students or children under the age of 18, the household will not have to pay council tax. If there is only one non-student adult in the property, they will usually be liable to pay the council tax but will receive a 25% discount because you are living there. If there are two or more other non-student adults, they will usually be liable to pay the full amount of council tax. Any non-students who are on a low income may be able to claim council tax benefit to help with the cost. Council tax liability can be complicated, particularly if you live with non-students, so if you are unsure please ask the Advice Centre. You will need to provide proof to the council that you are studying full-time. Ask at your Faculty Office for a ‘council tax exemption certificate’, which you can pass on to the council to show you are a student.

Career Development Loans This is a loan scheme funded by a number of high street banks and administered by the Department for Education and Skills. The DfES pay interest on the loan during your studies and for up to a month afterwards. For further information see www. lifelonglearning.dfes.gov.uk/cdl. The loans are designed for students on vocational courses of up to two years and cover course fees plus other costs such as materials, books, childcare and living expenses. You can apply for £300 to £8,000. If your course lasts more than two years your local Training and Enterprise Council may be willing to sponsor your Career Development Loan for longer. To apply call 0800 585 505 for an application pack or pick one up from the Advice Centre.

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Charities and Trusts Do charities and trusts help students? Yes. There are over 1,400 charities listed in the Educational Grants Directory which between them give away more than £50 million a year. They can often provide the vital amount of funding that makes the difference between being able to continue studying and having to give up a course. What help can charities and trusts give? It may be possible to get help with fees, books, equipment, travel, child minding, and special projects. However, they vary in what they will offer and to whom. Most will expect you to have exhausted all the more conventional sources of funding such as loans and hardship funds first. How do I apply? It is advisable to begin by narrowing down which charities are worth applying to. Most have strict criteria based on one or a combination of the following: need (e.g. disability), subject being studied, parent’s occupation and geographical location. Student Services and the Advice Centre have the ‘Funderfinder’ package that can be used to help match charities to your individual circumstances. They can also assist with the application process. If you are a student at the Conservatoire, you can also make an appointment with the Principle’s PA to access the faculty’s copy of the package. Alternatively, you can plough through the various books yourself. The following should be available in most libraries: • The Educational Grants Directory, published by the Directory of Social Change. • Directory of Grant-Making Trusts, published by the Charities Aid Foundation. • The Grants Register, published by Macmillan.

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You may also wish to speak to your personal tutor or course director, who may be able to tell you about other charities and trusts specific to your course. The Student Financial Advisers in Student Services also hold information on course-specific funding (see useful contacts section). When can I apply? Most charities have an application deadline. They tend to move quite slowly and are not usually able to provide a fast financial fix. It may be months before you get an answer so start thinking about applying anything up to a year in advance if possible.


Banks and Building Societies

Employment and Tax

Despite the precarious state of many students’ finances, banks are still keen to get your custom. Nearly all of them offer freebies and varying levels of interest-free overdraft. The reason for this is because banks are in the business of long-term investments and students are the country’s potential high earners.

Part-time Work

What’s on offer? Which bank is offering the most depends on what you are looking for. You may well decide that the interest-free overdraft facilities are more important than one-off gift or cash offer. Other factors to check out are: • the ease of getting an overdraft; • the rates of interest charged if your overdraft goes beyond the agreed limit, and the ease of extending it; • the proximity to your campus/accommodation of the nearest local branch; • the availability of a student adviser; • the cash point facilities close to your campus; • what happens to your overdraft once you graduate; • interest rates on graduate loans – some are much better than others. • some banks also offer professional studies loans, which can assist postgraduate students in paying their course costs. A guide to what the different banks are offering can be found at www.moneyfacts. co.uk or www.moneysupermarket.com/ currentaccounts.

For many students working part time whilst studying is a good way to raise funds and, hopefully to gain useful skills from a positive experience. Student Services Job Shop can provide advice and information on finding part-time work. They also work with Uni Temps, a company that specialises in student employment. For more information visit www.unitemps.co.uk. If you are having difficulties during your employment and require support contact the Advice Centre. For general information and advice on all aspects of employment visit www.worktrain.gov.uk.

Income Tax As a student you’re not exempt from paying income tax unless your income falls below your personal allowance threshold in a single tax year. Your pay slip will contain a tax code, which indicates the amount you can earn before tax is deducted. If you have paid tax, but your total income was not, or is not likely to be, as much as your personal allowance, you may claim a refund. Ask your tax office for a repayment claim form. If you know that your total taxable income in the whole of the tax year is likely to be less than your personal allowance, you should mention this to your employer when you start work, and ask for form P38(S). Your employer should then pay you without deducting tax.

National Insurance If you work for someone else or are self-employed whilst in full time education you will have to pay national insurance contributions if you earn more than £97.00 per week. For more detailed information visit www.hmrc.gov.uk/students.

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Budgeting A good starting point is to work out exactly what your income and expenditure is. Although your income is most likely paid termly, it is probably best if you have a clear idea of what your financial situation is on a weekly basis.

Credit Cards Although they provide an easy way to pay for things, they can also be an easy way to get into debt. Each month you receive a statement showing how much you owe and, if you don’t pay back the whole amount immediately, you will pay a relatively high rate of interest on the balance. Cards such as MasterCard, Visa or Barclaycard can be a way of getting short-term credit but are expensive if borrowing on a long-term basis. Visit www.choosingandusing.com a site that provides free and impartial information to enable you to choose the most appropriate card for you. Don’t see credit cards as another source of income, and avoid them altogether if possible.

Store cards Many stores offer credit cards, which operate in the same way as credit cards, but can only be used in that chain of stores. They tend to be easy to obtain and, like credit cards, can lead to serious debt as the interest rates are often very high.

Debit cards Debit cards such as Maestro and Delta are accepted in most stores. These work by automatically deducting the purchase price of an item from your account. They are not as risky as credit cards but they can make it more difficult to keep a close check on exactly how much money you have left in your account.

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To summarise, make sure that you have a clear idea of your weekly income and expenditure, and keep sources of borrowing down to a minimum. Try to survive on a combination of your statutory funding (grant, loan, etc.) plus your interest free overdraft rather than getting credit from a variety of sources. If necessary, look to top up your income via part-time and vacation work, and funds such as the Access to Learning Fund.

Debt Hopefully, as a result of careful budgeting, serious debt problems can be avoided. However, if you feel that you are not able to manage, it is best to seek advice as soon as possible before your situation gets any worse. If you’re struggling to pay University accommodation costs or tuition fees, it’s a good idea to speak to the University and let them know, as alternative payment plans can sometimes be arranged. For further information and advice contact the Advice Centre. Alternatively, contact National Debtline on 0808 808 4000.


Useful Contacts The Advice Centre Students’ Union, Union Building, Perry Barr Campus. The Advice Centre also operates from the Students’ Unions at Gosta Green, Westbourne Campus, the Conservatoire, Bournville and Millennium Point.

0121 331 6801

Department for Education and Skills www.dfes.gov.uk/studentsupport (Provides LEA contact details, finance application forms and copies of their publications on-line.)

union.advice-centre@bcu.ac.uk

Department for Education and Skills European Team

Student Services

Mowden Hall, Staindrop, Darlington, Co Durham DL3 9BG

1st Floor, Baker Building, Perry Barr Campus. Student Services also have offices at Gosta Green, Westbourne Road, and Cambrian Hall.

01325 391 199

0121 331 5588

Inland Revenue

www.ssv.bcu.ac.uk

HM Revenue & Customs, No.’s 1-10 City Centre House, Union Street, Birmingham

Academic Registry

www.hmrc.gov.uk

4th Floor, Feeney Building, Perry Barr Campus.

0121 331 5390 Birmingham Local Education Authority (LEA) Council House Extension, Margaret Street, Birmingham.

0121 303 2590 (ask for the Student Support Section)

Aim Higher A website providing general information for Higher Education students.

www.aimhigher.ac.uk

01253 503209

(The Inland Revenue ‘frequently asked questions’ page has information relevant to students.)

Learning and Skills Council for Birmingham and Solihull

0845 0194143 www.lsc.gov.uk

NHS Student Grants Unit The NHS Student Grants Unit, Hesketh House, 200-220 Broadway, Fleetwood FY7 8SS

0845 358 6655

www.nhsstudentgrants.co.uk

Career Development Loans

Student Finance Direct

Detailed information on career development loans.

08456 077 577

0800 585 505

www.studentsupportdirect.co.uk

www.lifelonglearning.co.uk/cdl

Student Loans

National Debtline

Student Loans Company, 100 Bothwell Street, Glasgow G2 7JD

0800 808 4000

0800 405 010

www.nationaldebtline.co.uk

www.slc.co.uk


More Publications from the Advice Centre...

The Advice Centre Birmingham City Students’ Union, Perry Barr, Birmingham B42 2SU www.birminghamcitysu.com Email: union.advice-centre@bcu.ac.uk Tel: 0121 331 6801 The Money Guide is produced by The Advice Centre, Birmingham City Students’ Union. While every effort was made to ensure that the information in this guide was correct at time of publication, no liability can be accepted for omissions or inaccuracies.


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