Thursday, 22 June 2017

Loose Change - UK Money Blogger Guest Post

Here is a LINK to part 2 of our UK Money Bloggers Loose Change rant on some of the quirks of student money rules.....

Benefit rules this time...... Grr!!

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Be wise - MAXIMISE

Did you read our Bankrupt of Mum and Dad article? Still makes our eyes water....!!

But what if you don't have a financial contribution to your budget from the bank of mum, dad, partner or other family/friends while you are in higher education?

What might your budget look like?
Tenner on notice board
There are lots of example budgets out there and "what the average student spends" guides - Google away! There are lots of examples.

So we are not going to regurgitate that information in our own version - not least because there is no such thing as an average student. Each student is an individual, with there own backgrounds, values, drivers and pressures.

The example budgets do serve as excellent guides, though they do tend to be based on the circumstances of traditional, single, school or college leaving students. This covers a large proportion of students but by no means all situations of the diverse students in higher education

No matter your circumstance you are likely to have to supplement any statutory student income to some extent.

MAXIMISE your income by

Making sure you are receiving all the student finance you are entitled to 

Asking if you are entitled to any welfare benefits - this is more likely if you are a lone parent, a student couple with children, a disabled student or a part-time student. See Any Benefit?

eXploring if you could be entitled to a bursary or other financial help from your university or college

Interest free borrowing via an overdraft offered with a student bank account

Making an application to the university/college Hardship Fund 

Identifying all your income and expenditure - understand and manage your budge

Searching for  help from a charity or trust fund  e.g. 

Employment, work part-time alongside your studies - check you uni for Jobshop/Careers

Money Bee
                                                                                                                       Be wise - MAXIMISE - seek advice if you are struggling 

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Guest Post - Loose Change UK Money Bloggers

Thanks you UK Money Bloggers for the invitation to write a post for your

Loose Change blog

I focused on a few of the most annoying exceptions to the finance and benefit rules that students often face . It turned into quite a rant so the editor and wonderful founder of Debt Camel allowed it to be a rant of two halves. So here is a link to Part 1 

Students - too often the exception that proves the rule

Friday, 3 March 2017

Our Services and Limited Special Offer

Levitate Student MONEY offers independent, impartial, information and guidance for students studying in Higher Education in the UK 

Our aim is to guide and help students understand their money options and to make their own informed choices.

We want students to be 
empowered consumers and to understand their money RIGHTS, RESPONSIBILITIES and know who to REFER to if they are not sure.

These are our

Our INDEPENDENCE is important to us because sadly sometimes students need help with money problems involving their University, the Welfare Benefit or Student Finance agencies.

We are not part of the government, Student Finance agencies, or directly linked to any Universities or Colleges. We have over 12 years experience in delivering expert student money guidance.

Knowing where to look for the right answers is sometimes not as easy as it sounds. So we are here to help with some useful.....

  Our Services
Presentations & Talks
For Staff, students at organisations who work with prospective HE students

Student funding entitlement guidance
Student funding application guidance
Repaying the student loans
What to do if refused funding or how to appeal a decision
Tips for considering budgeting, accommodation options, bank accounts, jobs

Financial Capability workshops 

For students, students & parents, including activities, games & talks

Funding entitlement
Budgeting and Money Management
Common money issues faced by students
Know where to look for help

One to Ones

Student Money guidance for parents/students based on individual need. 

If complex then follow up work to assist with next steps.  

Limited Offer for 2017– Student & Parent Money Workshop delivered for just   £500 plus trainer travel expenses.

Send your enquiries to us at

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Salad days - guest video

Since there is a salad crisis playing out at the moment thought we would share a video from a friend of Levitate Student - Blogger Gouranga Love!

Abha can knock up a mean and healthy salad and also grows some of her own veg to go into the salads on her allotment. However you don't need to dig and delve to grow your own. She grows salad sprouting seeds on her window sills and re-cycles her Romaine Lettuce, Celery, Chinese Leaves, Pak Choi etc from their salad hearts.

Watch her Salad Days video to see her re-cycled celery and how easy she makes preparing a healthy salad look.

GOURANGA: Gouranga - Salad days: Let me show you how to make a perfect healthy salad with fresh organic and home grown ingredients

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Bank(rupt) of Mum and Dad

I am a parent of two young people born two and a half years apart. That seemed like fairly shrewd family planning at the time. Its seem a common enough set-up looking around, the standard 2 point...whatever kids with about two years recover time between them. The fact is that back then my spouse and I had not projected our minds forward to the impact that decision would have in their university years.

Our Number One Child started university in September 2013 on a four year degree course and our Number Two Child started in September 2015 on a three year degree. So as a consequence they over-lap their uni studies by two years. 

I am going to try to list out what it has cost to support our students aspirations to go to university. Something we have done gladly I must say, in spite if the challenges and financial struggles it has brought us.

What I won't include are the general costs we would have incurred anyway such as food and lodging when they're come home, taxi-ing costs (including back & forth to uni as we would no doubt have done similar driving about to somewhere anyway) holidays we have paid for, Christmas presents, birthday and other gifts etc.

I will start with their student income though.....

Student finance assessment

Our students could not get income assessed student finance as our joint household income took us just over the threshold that allowed anymore than the basic funding. As a consequence both kids were entitled to the tuition fee loan which is not dependent on household income and the non-income assessed maintenance loan.

In 2016/17 this loan is £3,038

They didn't tick any boxes for any extra help from the universities such as bursaries. However one did need to apply for disabled students allowance which has helped with some specialist equipment.

Planning a budget

We would recommend that parents and students sit down and do this together. Its a challenge to know what are appropriate or affordable expenditures. So we agreed to set a a rough budget but discuss their needs and our pressures on going and tweak as needed.

We agreed to send a monthly amount by standing order of £150 to each child (even over the summer). 

So for Child One that's £7,400 over the 4 year course

 & for Child Two that's £5,800 over the 3 year course

The kids have been fairly modest with their spending and have earned some money through working when they could. 

On average they spent somewhere between £200 & £250 per month on out-goings such as food, bills, course costs, travel, socialising (rent excluded).

Looking around the university towns

We visited the potential university towns, some just on the Open Days other we made special trips to see. We made a holiday of it on one occasion since the universities of choice were quite away from home. 

We've easily spent over a £1000 on traveling to the university towns and paying for hotel accommodation.

Filling the bottom drawer

It's easy to get carried away in this department. We bought storage boxes, bedding (you don't really want all your home bedding to go with them) towels, cushions, basic crockery, cutlery. pans, tupperware. We had to buy them both a set of suitcases. We even bought small pieces of supplementary furniture such as drawer units, side tables and even collapsible wardrobe from IKEA for example. 

Books were a very expensive outlay and to be honest I am not sure how much use they were. Even though the university sends a reading/purchase list we would say hang fire until the student has a better idea what is really important themselves.

I would say £1000 would probably cover the books and bottom drawer costs for them both.

Stocking the cupboards

We have tended to help them with a "big shop" at the start of every new term, when we take them back after a break. This is to help them on their way, perhaps we are being over generous to pick up the tab but hey ho. 

So £1,500 should account for the big shop for each of them over the years.

Accommodation costs

This really hurts - I mean really!! The cost of accommodation has definitely been the toughest pressure. Paying for weeks where they are not even living in the accommodation is especially aggrieving.

Also there were hassle and concerns over signing as guarantors on their rental contracts. 

Child One lived in hall in first year and went for the catered option - cost £6,082
In second year they lived in private rented but had saved enough from student income and our monthly contribution to pay their own rent. Cost was £90 per week for 52 weeks with bills on top.

Year three coincided with their siblings first year so once again Child One had to pay their own rent. Which was £75 per week for 52 weeks plus bills.

For year four they returned to halls at an annual cost of £4,995, un-catered this time, once again we parents paid.

Child Two lived in private rented in year one with utility bills included and we paid it - cost £4,200.

Their second year coincided with their siblings final year so while we pay for Child One's halls, Child Two picked up the cost their own rent £105 per week with no bills included.

Their final year we will pay again  - the cost for accommodation (no bills) is £4,920

The kids have paid their own deposits and administration fees as these are often taken at the time of finding the new place.

Summary accommodation cost  to bank of Mum and Dad

               Child One        Child Two        Cost to
              Annual Rent   Annual Rent   Mum & Dad
Year 1      6,082                 -                     6,082                
Year 2      4,680                 -
Year 3      3,900              4,200                4,200                     
Year 4      4,995              5,460                4,995                                        
Year 5          -                  4,920                4,920

Total                                                      £20,197

So from the Bank(rupt) of Mum & Dad)

                     Monthly Budget                 £13,200
 Looking at University Towns                 £ 1,000
      Filling the bottom drawer                 £ 1,000
         Stocking the cupboards                 £ 1,500
           Accommodation Costs                 £20,197

Total       £36,897 


Monday, 16 January 2017

The bottom fell out of Part-time Study.....but it does help with Previous Study rules

When did that happen?......when the government removed the part-time fee grant, small living cost grant, additional fee support scheme and replaced it all with the tuition fee loan, that's when.

The decline was pretty instant but has remained a problem as recent HESA stats show

BBC NEWS - Part-time student numbers at a new low

We advisers saw it our experience the clients most benefiting from part-time study were not likely to be interested in the fee loan funding option. We doubt there will be much improvement with the introduction of loans for living costs for part-time higher education either given the likely impact on entitlement to means-tested welfare benefits.

One saving grace when the regulations changed was for those students who wanted to study full-time but had previous study at Higher Education level that meant they might have to self fund part of their course fee.

This was not as big an issue when the tuition fees were around the £1K mark or even £3K but at £9K self-funding even one year is prohibitive for most people. 

The general rule of thumb is an eligible student can receive funding for fees for 

length of course plus one year minus years of previous HE study

The previous study rules are complex and have caveats regarding course type and reasons for not completing  - so it's always a good plan to seek advice if you have previous study issues. 

Consider a student who started in the past, lets say, two years on a previous higher education course, now wants to start a new 3 years HE course 

3+1-2 = 2 this is the Standard entitlement to fee support

The rules require that this 2 years standard entitlement is allocated to the back end of the course first like this, till it is used up.

Year 1 - Self Fund

Year 2 - Standard Entitlement 2

Year 3 - Standard Entitlement 1

Finding the £9K needed for year 1 could be enough to stop any hopeful prospective students in their tracks.

Here though is where part-time study may be an option. The previous study rules are less rigorous for part-time study. One of the main requirements for fee support entitlement is that the student has not already achieved a qualification higher or equivalent in level to the new course. The requirement is that the new course is not an ELQ - an equivalent or lower qualification

A student facing self-funding could check if the same or similar course to the desired full-time option is offered on a part-time basis. If so, then the student could be eligible to have all their tuition fees paid as a part-timer. Part-timers can study at course intensities from 25% to 75% of a full-time equivalent depending on the programme on offer.

Of course there is currently no living cost provision, but the student is free to work. 

When the government introduces the part-time study living cost loans (proposed for 2018/19) we wonder if they will tweak these previous study rules......

Check out our Previous Study Rules Big Picture