Having debts that you can’t manage can be very stressful and it can affect your health, lifestyle and even your ability to continue your course at UCL. However, help is available. We’ve split this section into priority and non-priority debts. Non-priority doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay a bill or debt, it means that compared to a priority debt, the creditor can’t take drastic action such as evict you from your home. 

Priority debts include: 

Unpaid income tax or national insurance 

  • Rent and mortgage arrears 

  • Council tax arrears 

  • Gas and electricity bills 

  • TV licence payments 

Non-priority debts include: 

  • Credit card bills 

  • Water bills 

  • Unsecured loans such as payday loans 

  • Money owed to family and friends

There are specific steps you can take to manage your debts: 

  1. Make a plan to deal with priority debts. 
  2. Make a plan to deal with non-priority debts. 
  3. Collect information about your debts.
  4. Deal with any urgent issues such as upcoming court proceedings. 
  5. Prioritise your debts and check if you need to pay them. 
  6. Try and increase your income 
  7. Work out your essential spending, making a financial statement, and see if you can reduce your spending. 

Taking out further credit such as a high cost payday loan or any other loan in order to deal with your existing debt can make the problem worse, rather than solve it. We recommend trying to manage your debts using a sustainable approach, like the ones suggested above, and seeking advice if you need it. 

There are many free organisations out there that you can contact for more advice if you need it, including our Advice Service. They also have useful resources to help you manage your debts and contact your creditors, if needs be. It’s best to get help as soon as there’s a problem, or ideally as soon as you think you might have a problem paying your debts in the future. 

Need help?

You can contact the following places for support:

UCL Student Funding Advisor 

Citizens Advice


National Debtline 

Tel: 0808 808 4000 


  StepChange Debt Charity

Tel: 0800 138 1111