How To Stretch Your Student Loan
Written by: Rachel Lane
If you're considering going to university, there is a strong chance that you're also contemplating taking out a student loan to fund your university expenses. Student loans don't have to equate to student debt and if you plan your finances, it is possible to get by without student loans and possibly even profit from them. There are many sites on the internet which provide downloadable student finance guides and online advice on how best to manage your finances. Moneynet offers a comprehensive student finance guide ( http://www.moneynet.co.uk/student-finance-guide/index.shtml ), whilst the money section on support4learning is also a popular internet resource. ( http://www.support4learning.com/ ).
The first step to avoid financial dependence on a student loan is to consider taking a gap year to gain experience and earn money. This is a great opportunity to start saving for university and will give you funds to cover accommodation and bills without tapping into your student loan.
In terms of managing your personal finances, you could open up a notice savings account and invest your gap year earnings - alongside a student loan, accruing interest on the total amount, but being disciplined so that you only ever tuck into your savings - not the loan itself.
If you're comfortable that you can timetable it - you might consider a part-time job to help finance your studies, using your income to cover the majority of your expenses so that you can leave your bank savings alone. There will be times when you may have to make a withdrawal from your savings account, but if you leave the capital there as long as possible - the more money you will make.
If you're concerned about getting the maximum amount of interest on your loan, you could try doing a savings comparison search on the internet. Sites such as moneynet.co.uk ( http://www.moneynet.co.uk/banking-saving/index.shtml ) and reviewcentre.com ( http://www.reviewcentre.com/products2312.html ) allow you to compare different accounts alongside each other.
If you keep a tight grip on your finances, then it is likely that you will be in a strong position to pay off your loans when you graduate. Whilst studying, you might also be interested in conducting price comparison research for insurance and current accounts to ensure you're getting the best deals. Don't be seduced by high street offers of freshers' fair promotions - collect as much information as you can, so you can make an informed financial decision. It's also worth setting yourself up with online accounts which you manage through an account aggregation tool. Account aggregation allows you to manage your money online and can save you time, foot leather and bank charges. If you want to find out more about account aggregation, visit the Channel 4 website which offers a detailed guide. ( http://www.channel4.com/4money/banking/features/account_aggregation_161204.html )
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About the Author
Rachel writes for the personal finance blog Cashzilla.
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