Staying on top of your student finances during COVID-19
Coronavirus has well and truly changed the lives of most people around the world in one way or another. Whatever your circumstances may be, the pandemic is likely to have affected you in some way, because as much as the pandemic is a health crisis, it also has implications on our personal lives and way of living.
We’ve asked students across the UK what their biggest worries are right now and have done our best to help navigate this time. We are here to answer all the questions you may be asking right now around your studies and your student finances.
Analyse your situation
If you are worried about your finances over the next few months, we would recommend analysing your budget to assess the best way to move forward.
First, create a monthly 'cash flow'. This involves recording the cash you expect to have coming in, split into the coming months (April, May, June) as well as detailing all your outgoings (example below).
Strip back costs
Now you have a full list of your expenditures and income, you can look to see if there are any costs you could strip back or pause during this period.
This may include subscriptions that you aren't using or can live without. Can you call any providers up and ask if it's possible to pause payments or reduce it for the next couple of months? Make a list of the potential expenditures and action to cancel payments or call to see if there are other options.
Can you earn some extra money from home?
If you are struggling with your finances during this time, then there are some online portals where you could earn some extra cash from home. Fiverr is an online platform where freelancers can offer an array of digital services to businesses, including website development, design or photo-editing. Other online platforms such as Upwork and Peopleperhour offer similar project-based roles.
You can also take surveys online in exchange for gift vouchers or money. Below is a list of survey sites in the UK:
Do you still need to pay your rent?
Unfortunately, you do still need to pay rent as you usually would, even if teaching has moved online. However, some universities have agreed to waive the fee of living in halls during this period. It may be worth getting in touch with your uni to see if this applies to you.
Even if you've decided to move back home to self-isolate, you are still contractually obliged to pay your rent until the end date, unless agreed otherwise with your landlord/provider.
It can be stressful to continue paying rent for somewhere you are no longer living in. We would recommend getting in contact with your landlord or provider and explain your circumstances. You may be able to come to a resolution that suits both parties.
Do you still need to pay your bills?
Legally, you will still need to pay your bills. However, energy providers understand everyone is living in unprecedented circumstances, and their customers may find themselves in financial struggle due to COVID-19.
If you are worried about being able to afford to pay your bills, then get in contact with your providers and explain your situation. They may be able to help.
To start you off we have supplied energy provider contact details below:
- British Gas - 0333 202 9802
- EDF - 0333 200 5110
- EON Energy - 0345 052 0000
- Scottish Power - 0800 027 0072
- SSE - 0345 026 2658
What should you do if you can't pay your phone contract?
If you think you will struggle to pay your phone contract due to a loss of income because of the Coronavirus, then get in contact with your service provider and explain your situation.
If you were tied into a one- or two-year contract and are no longer in it, then you could look at switching to a sim-only deal which tends to be cheaper and gives more flexibility. This can be helpful if your income is suddenly reduced and you need to look at reducing your expenditures.
Will your student loan still be paid?
You’ll still receive your loan at the start of summer term. You can also still apply for student finance as usual for full-time undergraduate courses continuing or commencing after 1st August 2020.
What should you do if you run out of money for food?
If you are running low on funds for food, then get in touch with your university’s support services. Some student unions have set up food banks to support students whose loans may not be covering all their essentials.
Just remember you are not alone in this situation, and there are plenty of students reaching out for help. There are also some supermarkets offering out emergency food boxes. Check their social media and webpages to see if this is happening near you.
Should you still be doing your coursework?
Universities have now suspended all lectures and tutorials and have moved to teach online. Your university should be in touch with you to communicate what they expect you to do in terms of coursework and workload moving forward. We would advise continuing as normal with coursework and deadlines unless told otherwise.
Working from home during lockdown
It can feel quite overwhelming to be stuck at home during this pandemic, especially when you're used to being out more than being in. There are a few things you can do to help motivate yourself and keep sane during this period.
Give yourself a schedule and realistic goals to hit every day. Work in an hour and a half chunks and then take a small 10-minute break before you start your task again. You can even set small rewards after each task is complete. Check out our other top tips for adjusting to studying from home.
The government has advised going out once a day for exercise which is allowed during lockdown. Keeping active and getting some fresh air will help you through this period and give you a change of scenery while in lockdown. For more ways to stay healthy, check out our guide to self care during this time.
This is a bit of an unconventional one but if you do struggle with keeping focused then try Focusmate. It works by partnering you with your focus mate, and you work quietly in tandem to help with human accountability. You will both be able to see each other working and therefore be able to hold each other accountable.
Further support from official resources
We know it can be hard to stay off social media right now with so much going on, but limiting our screen time and only getting news from official sources might help to ease anxiety and protect a positive headspace.
Bookmark these official news sources on the pandemic for verified information: