If you are thinking about money and making ends meet, then these pages are here to help. We have pulled together some information to help you with your money and budget. Remember these webpages can’t cover everything so if you need help please do get in touch. Below we have given you information on the following:
- Students and benefits
- Tax and national insurance
- Part-time work
- Council tax
- Bank accounts
- Debt advice
- Gambling, addiction and money
- Trusts and charities
Students and benefits
The majority of full-time university (HE) students cannot claim benefits while studying. The main exceptions to this are:
- Lone parents
- Students with ongoing health conditions or a disability and who have limited capability for work
- Students who are pensioners
As everybody’s situation is different, it is a good idea to get advice before your course starts. We are happy to discuss your situation with you at any time. You may also find the following resources helpful:
Disability Rights is a national charity that has a student helpline you can use free of charge as well as excellent online resources.
Gov.uk has additional information about claiming Universal Credit as a full-time student.
Tax and National Insurance
Students are subject to tax and National Insurance just the same as everybody else. However, the reality is that most students will not earn over the threshold while studying full time. The other complexity in relation to students and tax is that some students have more than one job, (agency work for example), and so may be taxed in error. Don’t panic, you can claim tax back if you pay too much for any reason. However, you can’t reclaim National Insurance, so it is really good to understand what to do when you start work to prevent these mistakes from happening. It is a good idea to get to grips with the basics of tax and national insurance as this will be how you repay your student loans and also taxation is a fact of life rather than a maths problem.
Everyone has a personal allowance and it is only if you earn over this (or it appears you may earn over this) that you will pay tax. This means if you have a busy month in work, with a lot of overtime, your employer may deduct tax as it looks like your earnings are going to go over the threshold if this level of income should continue. Your student income (student loans, grants or bursaries) are not taxable, but earned income is (as is income from interest on any savings you have).
The Low Incomes Tax Reforms Group produces a comprehensive tax guide for students including how to ‘share’ your personal allowance between part-time jobs. It also includes information on tax for international students too. You can also find a Tax and National Insurance module on Blackbullion, the digital learning platform that students from LJMU can use.
Bank accounts and charges
Student accounts are bank accounts for students in higher education. They will normally offer you an interest-free overdraft. Choosing an account is very much a personal preference but do shop around and do a bit of research using comparison websites such as the Money Saving Expert. Banks have great banking apps now and some let you add other bank accounts so you can track your money easily.
While you can have and use a number of bank accounts, you can only have one student bank account at any one time, but you can swap your bank if you find a better deal.
Most banks will offer student accounts without charges as long as you don’t go over the agreed overdraft limit on your account. If you are being charged by your bank, it is worth speaking to them as it is possible to negotiate these charges in some cases and remember charges must be proportionate to the situation. See the Money Advice Service website for information on bank charges.
Since 6th April 2020 banks have no longer been able to charge fixed daily or monthly fees for an overdraft and must now charge a single interest rate for all overdrafts whether they are arranged or unarranged. Overdrafts are usually (apart from student overdrafts) intended to be used as a last resort for a short period of time.
This new rule from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) sets out the charges banks can make for overdrafts.
Dealing with debt
Debt is unfortunately a fact of life for students at university. However, not all debt is the same and it is important to understand that there is a difference between good and bad debt. For example, most people will have a mortgage at some point in their lives and this is not necessarily bad; in fact it is a good thing. Your student loans are not the same as other debts so shouldn’t be ‘lumped in’ with other debts when you are thinking about your money. In addition, a student overdraft will not need to be repaid while you are studying, so while you need to recognise this is not free money, is not something to be overly concerned about while you are a student.
The debts that may concern you are those that charge high interest (such as credit cards or pay day loans) and it is good if you can make sure you don’t turn to these forms of credit unless you have no other option. Even when you think you don’t have another option stop and think about it. Ask for help from a reputable organisation.
National Debtline is a charity that offers free advice and guidance about managing your money and dealing with debt.
The main thing to remember is that if you need help you just need to ask for it. The university employs staff that can signpost you to external services, you just need to ask if you are not sure where to turn.
Gambling and addiction
Gambling is far more accessible than it used to be and this, combined with more free time, freedom and money are some of the reasons university students are seen to be in an at risk group of gambling addiction.
Gamcare is a national charity that can support you or your family. The support is confidential and can be online or on the phone. In some circumstances, you may be able to access face to face support too.
Working part-time while you study is a great way to meet new people and learn new skills. It also helps with balancing your budget. Please make sure you don’t work too many hours as this will interfere with your studies. We have our very own employment agency on campus Unitemps that can help you find work to fit around your studies.
Don’t forget the LJMU Careers team are not just here to help you find your graduate job. They are happy to help you with your work experience, CV writing and interview technique right through your course.
Beware of employment scams, according to Which young people are most at risk of being scammed by bogus employers. Unscrupulous people know you are looking for work and are it’s a competitive job market. If an employer asks you to pay them for anything before you start then be wary. As the old saying goes if it looks too good to be true it probably is. You can report suspected scams to the Gov.uk website. Don’t forget you may need to report scams to your bank and can also speak to the police if you think you have been scammed.
For useful information on paying council tax as a student, take a look at our help page.
Trusts and charities
You would be amazed at how many trusts and charities exist and give additional funding to students in various circumstances. Its never too early to start looking into these. The charity Turn2us has an excellent search engine on their website with some great tips for using it.
You can also find some ideas and tips on the Save the Student website.