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In these current uncertain times, many students will be facing financial difficulties. We have put together the following guidance to try and help you manage your money through this difficult time.

Make an emergency budget

If you’re concerned about cashflow, have a look at what you’re spending and what money you’ve got coming in. Make sure you set aside enough money to cover essential and often fixed costs, such as rent and utility bills, and cut down on unnecessary spending. Check your online banking, mobile banking or bank statements regularly so no spending is missed.

You may find it helpful to use a budget planner. You can access one on the Money Advice Service website here.

Get some help with your bills

If you’ve got a gas or electric bill which you can’t pay, you should contact your supplier as they may be able to arrange a payment plan that works for you.

To cut your future bills, you should make sure that you’re on the best deal you can get. You can compare gas and electricity providers’ prices on the Citizens Advice website here.

If you need help with your mobile phone or broadband bill, you should check your provider’s website and contact them straight away to explain the situation. They may be able to help you by changing your bill date, setting up an affordable repayment plan or moving you to a different tariff.

You can find some more information on getting help with your bills on the Money Advice Service website here.

Apply for a council tax exemption

Full-time students are normally exempt from paying council tax. You can find more information about how to apply for a council tax exemption here. If you do pay council tax but are currently struggling to pay it, you should speak to your local council. You can search for your council here.

Use your savings

If you have some savings, this may be the time to use them. Don’t assume you can’t get your money if it’s in a fixed term or notice savings account. Some banks and building societies are now saying you’ll be able to access them with no penalties. Check with your bank or building society if they’re able to help.

Check if you can increase your income

It’s worth checking if there are any ways in which you can increase your income, as there might be something you’re missing out on like benefits, bursaries, allowances or other things you might qualify for. You might be entitled to universal credit if you’re disabled, have children, are a part-time student or are over 60 years old.

If you have a job, check that you’re paying the right amount of tax. You might be able to claim a tax refund if you’re on the wrong tax code and have overpaid your taxes.

You can find more information about who is eligible for universal credit here, and can find more information about tax refunds here.

Consider extending your overdraft

If you’re struggling because of coronavirus, it’s worth telling your bank or building society. If you don’t normally have an overdraft, they might agree to let you have one. If they give you an overdraft or you already have one, they should agree not to charge interest on the first £500 for 3 months.

Borrow from family and friends

If you’re able to borrow some money from family or friends, this could be a cheap and short-term way of getting some extra money. If you are concerned about borrowing, read the Money Service Advice guide to borrowing money from family and friends here.

Take advantage of student discounts

Look out for shops and food outlets which offer student discounts. Student discount sites like UNiDAYS, Student Beans, Save the Student and Student Money Saver all contain deals and discounts. The NUS Extra Card also gets you discounts at many restaurants and shops.

Seek support from UCL

UCL has set up Emergency Assistance Funds for both undergraduate and postgraduate-taught students, and postgraduate research students, who are experiencing financial hardship relating to the Covid-19 pandemic. You can find more information about these funds and what other financial support is available here.

Contact someone if you are worried about debt

Facing a sudden drop in income if you’re already managing other debts can have a severe impact on your finances. If you are struggling, please do not hesitate to contact our Advice Service for some support.