An Introduction to Student Finance

Going to university can be a big step for many people – a giant leap into the big wide world. What I mean by this is that you now have to be a real grown up and learn how to do things that you may never have had to do before, such as paying rent and utility bills.

Although there is often accommodation at university, sometimes you may not always get a place there, or you might only get it for the first year. In these situations, you’ll need to share a house with other students, who may be in the same year as you or older. This can be difficult if you aren’t sure how to do certain things.

We hope to give you some handy tips about topics that you may not have considered needing to do during your time at university, which are actually really quite important. Hopefully we’ll also ease some of your nerves about this next big step you’re about to take.



1. The early bird catches the… best house!

Renting a property is a big step for many students – you may have never had to do it before and sometimes managing that sort of money can be a little daunting. When you start your first year, you might think you have loads of time to consider where you want to live and who you want to live with, but in reality you don’t have that much time at all.

If you want a decent house, you and your friends are best off starting to look not long after you start your first term. It sounds early, but there will be many other students from many different courses and across all different campuses, looking for a place to live too! Most will leave it until the last minute, and you don’t want to be one of them.

When looking for a place, you need to be realistic about what it is you can afford and what your housemates can afford. Often, students split the rent based on the size of a person’s bedroom - so the bigger the room size, the more you will have to pay.


2. Bills, bills and more bills

Budgeting is a very important skill that every student needs, but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. It sounds boring, but having this skill will help you survive at university. Not only will you have to pay rent for where you’re staying, but you’ll also have to pay utility bills too. Some of you may be sat there wondering what a utility bill is - it’s a way of collectively saying gas, electricity and water bills. Most young adults heading to university have never had to pay these before - and now you need to budget all these things, along with your student loans or support from your family. 

On top of this, you may now be living with a large number of other people (sometimes with up to 7 others!). If you’re all in one house, it’s easier to split the bills equally between you all, that way you all save that little bit extra. That little bit extra you save on bills could help contribute to fun activities.

It sounds like a lot of money, but if you learn how to budget, it will be so much easier (and you may even have some left to go to the Student Union bar!)


3. TV and Radio

A TV licence is needed if you want to watch television in your student house – you need a licence to watch or record TV programmes on any channel, or to download or watch any BBC programmes on iPlayer. You’ll probably get flyers and letters about it when you first move in, but it’s better to be prepared than have warning letters coming through the door, or get a fine for not having one! Importantly, a licence for your halls of residence does not cover you in your room… you’ll need your own licence for that.

This is another additional cost (awful I know, but it’s better to be safe than sorry). If you’re not in halls but in a shared house (i.e. you have a joint tenancy agreement with your housemates), you could also split the cost between everyone you live with.


Your New Address

4. Registering to vote

How embarrassing would it be if you and your friends needed to go and vote, but you forgot to register and you didn’t find out until you got there? Save yourself from this embarrassment – your vote matters, so make sure you have your say.

You have a couple of choices – you can register for a postal vote so that you vote in your home town or your current town by post, or you can simply register your new address and you’ll be added to the voting register to attend the local polling station. You can do this through the Register to Vote section on the government website – it only takes 5 minutes.


5. Your driving licence

The final important tip/subject is to change the address on your driving licence. Even if you are going back home for the half terms you need to alter you details with the DVLA and explain to them that you have got a temporary address at university. This is crucial because it means that your vehicle and road tax registrations are up to date.

It doesn’t cost you anything to do and it could save you a fine of up to £1,000 (which as a student you can’t afford). It’s easy to do and you can do it through the DVLA on the government website.


What’s GOV.UK Verify?

When it comes to your summer holidays, some students work to earn some extra cash for the coming year, while others take the chance to travel a bit. GOV.UK Verify can help you out in both cases.

Firstly, if you work, you’ll be taxed – that’s just a fact of life. However, with Verify, you can calculate your Income Tax for the current year or log into your Personal Tax Account to check your tax and claim back any Tax Rebates you might be entitled to.

Secondly, if you get the chance to go travelling, one way to reduce your costs is to hire a car and split the costs between the group. When you hire a car, you often need to share your licence information with the rental company. Another service with Verify is the ability to view and share your licence details online!


So what has CitizenSafe got to do with this?

To use GOV.UK Verify, you’ll need to have your identity checked, to make sure that you are who you say you are and keep your private details secure. CitizenSafe is one of the government certified identity providers – they’re 100% dedicated to identity verification, they don't do anything else! 

When you select CitizenSafe to check your identity online, they’ll make the journey as simple and straightforward as possible for you, and only ask you the questions that they need to know to prove who you are – nothing more!


Find out more

Keep up-to-date with the services you can access through GOV.UK Verify on our website, and find out about all the other government services available online at GOV.UK

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