Avoiding student debt

You’re bound to be in debt post-university, but there are ways to avoid being absolutely up to your eyeballs in it. We explain how to earn, save and borrow to lower your student debt.

group of friends laughing

You can totally take control of your student finances and still have fun.

Use your interest-free overdraft carefully

Most student bank accounts have an interest-free overdraft, which is great as long as you don’t go over your limit. If you do, your bank will whack you with a load of extra charges.

Also be warned: this isn’t free money. You will have to pay it back eventually. Once you graduate, most banks tend to reduce your overdraft limits pretty swiftly.

Get all the help you’re entitled to

As well as your basic student loan and grants you may also be entitled to FREE MONEY, so make sure you apply for everything you can.

Ask your student services about bursaries and grants from the university. There is also help in the form of the Disabled Student’s Allowance, the Parents’ Learning Allowance, and a bursary if you’ve been in local authority care.

You may also be eligible for Income support.

Don’t go crazy with your student loan

Blowing the whole of your loan on jaegerbombs as soon as you get it may be fun, but it’s a sure fire way of leaving you skint, living off value noodles, and staying in every Friday night until the end of term.

One way to stagger your spending is to give yourself a monthly or weekly allowance. Put the bulk of your loan into a savings account and transfer a bit into your current account at the beginning of every month.

Don’t think you have the self-control? Send your loan to your parents and get them to set up a standing order to transfer over an allowance for you.


It’s not glamorous or sexy, but keeping track of your spending does mean you’ll always be able to afford loo roll. To avoid lots of maths or crazy spreadsheets, just put some numbers into the Money Advice Service Budget Planner, which does the difficult bit for you.

Getting part-time or summer work

Actually earning money is way better than borrowing and looks good on your CV. And, let’s be honest, student timetables aren’t always full. (Not that we doubt your work ethic or anything.)

Working for the university itself can be really flexible. Being a university student ambassador (like the students who showed you around on your open day) tends to pay quite well and can include reception work, working in schools or doing tours.

Get money advice

There are loads of people gagging to talk to you about your finances, and we’re not talking about conmen or loan sharks. Most student services have finance advisors – find them on the NASMA (National Association of Student Money Advisers) website.

You could also give the Money Advice Service a call on 0800 138 7777, or ring us on 0808 808 4994. We’re unable to give specific money advice but can guide you to the best places for expert support.

Take advantage of student discounts

You can get loads of money off things as a student, so milk it while you can. We guarantee you’ll miss those 10% discounts as soon as your NUS card runs out.

It’s also worth keeping an eye out for deals and vouchers on sites like Student Beans and UNiDAYS, and getting yourself a 16-25 railcard to help pay for those trips back home for the weekend.

Next Steps

  • The Money Advice Service offers free, unbiased and independent advice about all financial matters. 0800 138 7777
  • Use the Money Advice Service's budget planner to take charge of your finances.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.


Updated on 29-Sep-2015