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Press Room

Start of Term Brings Money Worries to Students
(27 September 2004)

With freshers week days away, many of the 331,000* students about to start university could be forgiven for feeling a little worried about leaving home for the first time and the financial challenges that could be ahead. The 2004 NatWest Student Money Matters Survey has found that whilst thinking that the cost of university is going to be nearly 26,000, nearly two thirds of sixth formers intending to go to university feel that they are not financially prepared.

What's more, when asked about their biggest worry about going to university, a massive 71% of sixth formers said that they were worried about money being tight - something, according to current undergraduates, that doesn't get any better once in university, with 36% of existing students stating that they are either struggling financially or not coping at all.

This year's students however can learn a valuable lesson from recent graduates, many who made preparations in advance. A third saved money from a full time holiday job and a fifth had built up savings for some time. A fifth however made no preparations at all.

Almost 70% of existing students admit to spending more money each month than they had expected and just over half now feel that the amount of debt they will graduate with is more than they had anticipated. Spending isn't the only area that students underestimate. Nearly a third of students think that the number of hours spent studying and working to earn extra money is more than they had expected.

According to those students already at university, freshers can expect to fork out around 900 per month on the following:

Food shopping78.73
Going out62.40
Eating out53.47

Robin Taylor, Head of NatWest Personal Banking, said: "It's now a fact of modern life that most students will leave university with some kind of debt, be it student loans, overdrafts, credit card balances or a combination of the three, but with help from your bank and careful management it doesn't have to be a millstone around your neck.

"Students nowadays are going to university with their eyes open and know that it will be a big financial commitment. That said, they know that it is an investment in their future and its value should never be underestimated."

NatWest has dedicated student and graduate banking managers in place to help advise school leavers, students and graduates worried about their immediate finances and how best to manage any possible debt at university.

They have put together the following tips for school leavers and students about to graduate on how to try and avoid the debt trap while at university:

NatWest Tips for School Leavers
Top Ten Tips to Try and Avoid The Debt Trap

  • Think about staying in university accommodation for as long as possible - it can be cheaper than renting privately.
  • Make travelling home cheaper with a 5-Year Young Persons Railcard. NatWest is the only bank to offer one free when you open a student account.
  • Shop for food with friends - buying in bulk can save money and lets you take advantage of 'buy one get one free' offers.
  • Claim discounts. Make sure you use your NUS or ISIC card and also look in your Student Union for one-off deals.
  • If you do work, check whether you have to fill in a form P38(S) so that tax will not be taken off your earnings.
  • Ask other students how much you will need to pay for bills. Complete a budget planner and regularly review it to see where your money is being spent and if it is deviating from the budget.
  • Record all transactions as you spend them so that there are no surprises when your bank statement arrives.
  • Work out how much you can afford to spend per week and draw it out on a set day rather than keep visiting the cash machine for a tenner here and a tenner there. If you do the latter, it can quickly build up and take you to your financial limit.
  • If you do find yourself struggling, talk to your bank as soon as possible - don't sweep cash problems under the carpet.
  • Finally, it's easier said than done, but don't run up a massive debt in the first couple of months. Going out every night in the first term may make you popular but could mean a serious lack of social life later in the year.

Notes to Editors:

  • Research carried out by Virtual Surveys Limited between 24th May and 9th June.
  • 1,008 graduates, 1,091 students and 1,045 sixth formers were surveyed.

For further advice on preparing for university, visit

Enquiries to:
Media Relations
Tel: 020 7672 1931

*UCAS figures as at 1st September 2004.