Money management is the main concern for most freshers according to new research conducted by NUS this spring on behalf of student insurance provider Endsleigh.
The study sampled 2,064 university students aged between 18 and 25 between April and May of this year.
When asked to rank their top concerns, 40 percent of students surveyed noted “managing my money” as their key concern, significantly higher than the 33 percent who put “achieving academic success” at the top.
The students’ concerns were not without reason: the study also found that 25 percent of first year students were unable to make their first student loan instalment last longer than a month, with seven percent said it did not last them longer than a week.
Furthermore, just under half of students with overdrafts claimed that they were “always” overdrawn, while more than a quarter “regularly” used their overdraft. Hefty charges can accrue from relying heavily on overdrafts, but the study indicates that poor budgeting leaves many students with few other options. In addition, more than half of all university students had no plan to pay off their student debt, which indicates that problems with money management may continue after university.
More than half of all university students had no plan to pay off their student debt
More troubling is that these concerns appear to catch students unaware. The majority claimed that they felt either “quite prepared” (45 percent) or “very prepared” (17 percent) for university costs, but 61 percent said that university was more expensive than they had imagined. In addition to the cost of tuition, students must also take into account the costs of living, books, accommodation, and other university expenses.
The study also called on teachers and parents to help prospective students prioritise their studies by discussing valuable budgeting skills, and current students to be more open with peers about money management.
“Our research shows that a lot of students are unfortunately letting money issues get in the way of their studies,” a spokesperson from Endsleigh said. “There’s still time to talk about money management before they head off to Freshers this year.”