Money matters | Autism Toolkit
Additional support and disability advice
By the start of term you should have received the Student Fees and Maintenance Loan. If you did not apply in time, don’t worry; you can still apply. However, you might receive your first instalment late – so make sure you bring enough money with you to cover the first few weeks. If there is going to be a significant delay with your funding, the Student Finance Centre may be able to help once you’ve arrived in Portsmouth .
The student maintenance loan is paid three times a year, in September, January and April, so you need to make it last for a long time. Together with any Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) you may have, your money needs to cover all your expenses, your rent, bills, food, household goods, books, equipment (e.g. laptop), travel, social expenses and any unexpected extras.
How could this affect me?
This may be the first time you have had to manage your own money, or you might have been doing it for years. In either case, the student loan is quite limited so having to make it last for a few months is quite a difficult task. Indeed, it is common for students to overspend and get into debt. Money worries, added to the demands of the course, can be a challenging combination. To avoid getting into debt and worrying about money, it is important that you work out a strict budget and stick to it.
Working out a budget will allow you to decide whether taking a part-time job may be a good idea, especially if you have no financial support from your family. However, part-time jobs can get in the way of your studies. So be realistic about the amount of hours you can work without it interfering with your course. Striking the right balance between extra income from a part-time job and keeping up with your studies is key to having a good experience at University.
What next?Work out a budget for all your expenses and stick to it.
- There are many websites out there that will help you to manage and work out your budget. Try this Budget calculator, offered by Which?
- Get a student discount card from TOTUM. It offers discounts in many shops, cinemas and restaurants.
- Books: Do not feel you have to buy all recommended books. The library has multiple copies of key texts that you can borrow but some books you will still need to buy as they are key to your course. Ask you tutors which books they recommend buying and which to get second-hand. Once you no longer need them, sell them to recover the investment.
- Course related expenses: Many students underestimate how much they will spend on course related materials (e.g., printing, art work, equipment, etc). Make sure you budget for these right at the start.
- Shop around! Prices can vary widely.
- Try to buy fresh food and prepare your own lunches rather than buying ready-made meals, they are cheaper and healthier. There are many websites offering easy and cheap recipes (see also the Healthy Living page). Try them out!
- Do not underestimate how much money you will spend on household items such as cleaning products and toiletries, they are very expensive.
- Travel: Get yourself a railcard or consider travelling by bus, it is a lot cheaper.
- Don’t forget to budget for internet, phone and utility bills if you do not live in accommodation with bills included.
- Leave roughly 10% of your budget for unexpected expenses (e.g., laptop repair, replacement of household appliances, etc) or to overspend elsewhere in the budget
- Do not ignore debts - deal with them as soon as they start building up. Contact the Student Finance Centre, they will be able to help.
Questions to think about
- Are there any expenses you may have forgotten to budget for?
- Could you realistically make your budget cover all expenses without getting a part-time job or into debt?
- Have you got an emergency pot you can use of unexpected expenses?
Additional information and links
Learn about the services offered by the University to support you and help you keep on top of your finances.
This toolkit is an adaptation of the Autism&Uni project led by Marc Fabri from Leeds Beckett University, under license CC BY 4.0. The original Autism&Uni project was funded with support from the European Commission with partners in the UK, Finland, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain. For more information about this project please visit the Autism&Uni website.