As a student you are not going to have much money and you must therefore be very careful about how you handle your cash. Possibly for the first time you will have complete control over your finances, you will have banks jostling for your custom by offering huge overdrafts and incentives combined with the offer from the Student Loans Company for a student loan. The temptation to spend is massive, particularly in your first year when you want to socialise and get to know as many people as possible.
How should I budget?
Check out the Advice Centre's
• Budgeting Leaflet
Should you be unsure about costs contact the Advice Centre and we will be able to give you some help. If it looks like your books aren't balancing don't decide that you can manage without textbooks and you will never eat out or spend any money on anything ever, because you will. Look at ways you can increase your income, the option of finding part time work, like through the Job Shop or in your college bar/shop. Are your parents able to help you further? If these aren't options consider applying for the Hardship Fund and/or Hardship Loan of which more details are given later.
The website Aim Higher: Student Finance gives some good advice on how to work out and stick to a budget plus links to many other useful websites.
Your first decision is what bank you should choose. Try not to be swayed by the introductory offers but look instead at the size of the overdraft, their flexibility in arranging overdrafts, the proximity to where you will be living and the availability of student advisors. It is best to make sure your branch is in Durham as this is where you will be spending most of your time and will generally make things such as extending your overdraft quicker and easier for you. It is also important that you don't use all of your overdraft in your first year; try to set a limit and increase that limit every year.
The Durham Grant Scheme
The scheme was shortlisted for the Times Higher Award for Outstanding Student Support Package for 2006-07.
o One quarter of all full-time home undergraduates will receive an award
o Open and accessible - the only criterion is household income
o Cash award - you decide how you spend it
Simple - no additional administrative burden for you: apply through your LA or Student Finance Direct (or equivalent in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) for means-tested support and you’ll automatically be considered for an award.
Household Income Grant % Grant Value
Less than £17,900 100% £3,070 per year
£17,900 - £22,500 50% £1,535 per year
£22,501 - £28,000 20% £615 per year
PGCE Less than £17,900 10% £310 per year
There are differing levels of Grant depending on your household income (2007/08): for further information about the Durham Grant Scheme please contact email@example.com or telephone 0191 334 6145.
The hardship fund is open to all full time students and most part time students. It is intended to help those that without such financial assistance would have to terminate their studies. The fund is prioritised for certain groups such as lone parents, students with dependants, students who have entered higher education from care, or those with unusually high course costs. If you are in need of extra help financially make an appointment at the Advice Centre where they keep a stock of the forms. You will also receive help and support in making your application should you need it. They will help you fill in the form and also check your entitlement for other types of student funding. The maximum amount which can be awarded is £3500, very few actually receive this. However, each application is assessed individually. There is a variation between Colleges in terms of typical awards and time taken to assess applications so bear this in mind when making an application and ask at your College for how they deal with applications.
If you have not been awarded any money following your application and you disagree with the decision, make an appointment at the Advice Centre as we may be able to help. There is no formal complaints or appeals procedure, instead applicants are invited to re- apply.
Unfortunately, most students are ineligible for benefits. However there are some groups which qualify, they are:
o Lone Parents
o Disabled Students
o Students with children and or unemployed partners
o Some part time students
o Overseas students whose funding from abroad has been temporarily suspended.
o Student couples
If you believe you fit into one of the above groups and would like further information contact the Advice Centre.
The majority of home fee paying students also qualify for free or reduced cost NHS charges. This includes help with prescription charges, eye tests and dental treatment amongst other items. Application forms also known as HC1 can be obtained from the Advice Centre, doctors surgeries, opticians and dentists. If you do pay any NHS charges you should ask at the time of paying for the "refund form" which after completing should be sent along with your completed HC1 form.
The above section on finance is only a brief guide and is correct only at the time of writing, things may change during the course of the academic year. For up to date accurate advice/information you should contact the Advice Centre. If you do find yourself in financial difficulty seek help as soon as possible the longer the problem is left the worse it generally becomes.
Course Costs (excluding Tuition Fees)
We estimate that most students should not need to budget much more than between £20 and £30 per week (if you are living in halls) and £30 -£40 if you are living out (excluding bills). What you need to spend will depend on what you are studying. All students will need to buy pens and paper, use the library, pay for photocopying and printing and buy books, but some students may also need to buy specialist equipment e.g. protective gear for lab work. Some students will also have to pay for compulsory field trips and will need to add this cost to their figures quoted above.
• HINT: you won't need to buy all the books on your reading list! Make use of our library which has nearly 1.5 million books. We also have over 1,250 computer terminals or wireless access points for accessing the Internet and online journals.
How much you will need to spend on transport will depend largely on where you live. At both campuses colleges are located within walking distance of university departments and facilities, so the only travel you will need to do is between university and home, whether this is a termly return-trip or a daily commute. For students who do not commute and do not have a specific need e.g. a disability, cars are strongly discouraged as parking is limited and expensive.
• HINT: find out how much it costs to travel between home and university, and make sure you get the cheapest fare possible. If you're travelling on the train, get a Young Persons Rail card to save a 1/3 off fares. If you use the bus every day, investigate scholar passes and season tickets.
• HINT: There is also a free shuttle bus between Durham City and the Queen's Campus.
Clothes and Toiletries
We recommend that you are careful with your clothes and toiletries costs and budget no more than £5.00 per week on toiletries or £195 per academic year, unless of course you have specific extra needs e.g. regular medication. How much you spend on clothes and shoes should depend on how much disposable income you have after paying for necessities e.g. accommodation, food, utilities and insurance. You should never spend more on non-essentials than you can afford!
• HINT: if you have to buy clothes or shoes look out for student discounts and sales - but don't get carried away!
Because your mobile phone is not an essential item we recommend that you allow yourself no more than £5.00 per week (£195 per academic year) for phone calls and texts. This is not a lot and you may need to keep a strict limit on the calls you make and the text messages you send.
• HINT: Why not investigate pay monthly phone deals with free texts and calls or keep to a fixed weekly pay as you go budget. Don't forget that e-mailing is free from the university network.
Unless you have a high disposable income we recommend that you budget no more than £25.00 per week on leisure which works out at £975 per academic year.
• HINT: when you're planning your leisure activities consider joining one or more of the Durham Students' Union's 100+ societies or using the university sporting facilities which are much cheaper than commercial gyms.
• HINT: don't forget if you own a television you must have a TV License. You may also need cash for things like birthday cards and presents, cups of coffee between lectures, stamps and all those things you don't really think about but which all add up.
Term-Time and Vacation Work
The University's Jobshop recommends you do not spend more than 10 hours per week in part-time work during term-time, which is about £35 per week at the minimum wage. You should however never continue with part-time work if it is affecting your academic work or your health. The Durham University JobShop at is the ideal place to start looking!
Long Vacations offer a great opportunity to get some part-time work and save up for the new university year, a target of £700 is a realistic one.
• HINT: it's never too early to start planning for university - have you got a job lined up for the summer before you come to Durham?
A Note on Overdrafts and Credit Cards
Most high street banks offer student accounts that provide interest free overdrafts of around £1,000 for first year students (rising to around £2,000 for final year students). Interest free overdrafts can be a good way of supplementing your income and managing your money, and some banks have repayment plans so you don't suddenly have to pay back a huge sum as soon as you graduate. You should NEVER get a credit card as they involve high levels of interest and strict monthly payment schedules with severe penalties for non-repayment.
Durham's Unique Collegiate System
Durham University's unique collegiate system means that you'll always be able to talk to someone one-to-one about your money worries. Your College Tutor can provide you with friendly unofficial support, and for more pressing problems each college has a Senior Tutor or Student Support Officer who can help you work through your financial issues. College staff are highly experienced in dealing with a wide range of pastoral issues including financial issues in total confidence. They can help you with budgeting or applying to the Access to Learning Fund
Durham Students' Union
Durham Students Union also offers free confidential financial advice and debt counselling for students, which is monitored through the Financial Services Authority. If you have severe financial problems which might lead to creditors taking legal action against you, they can also act on your behalf.
The Access to Learning Fund
Students who find themselves unexpectedly in need of financial support once they have started their course you can apply for a grant or loan from the Access to Learning Fund through their college. Award values depend on circumstances but students can be awarded up to £3,500 per academic year (awards larger than £1,500 are rare).
Personal Development Support
At Durham we believe that all students should be able to benefit from the opportunities for personal development offered by university life, regardless of their financial circumstances. Thanks to the generosity of our alumni we are able to provide small awards to students who wish to become involved in extra-curricular activities such as student sport, student societies, the arts andvoluntary work either in Durham or overseas, but who cannot afford to do so. Further information can be found