Student accommodation and student loans

Student accommodation and student loans

There’s a lot to prepare before starting university. Not only do you have to get used to an entirely new environment and way of working, but you also have rent and living expenses to think about.

For most students, the university is their first experience living away from home and paying their housing costs without parental support.

Part of knowing how to pay for student accommodation is being familiar with the various funding options.

There are criteria you’ll need to meet to be eligible for student finance. But if you’re awarded it, you can use some of your money to pay for student accommodation – here’s how.

What is a maintenance loan?

Most undergraduate students receive a student loan from the government to help them with their university costs.

Student loans consist of a sum to cover tuition fees and a separate sum (a maintenance loan) that can be used for living expenses at the university.

There are two types of student loans you can apply for:

  • Maintenance loan – Accommodation and living costs while at university are covered. Funds are directly deposited into your bank account at the start of each term.
  • Tuition fees loan – This covers the cost of tuition fees and is paid directly to your university or college.

This allows you the freedom to manage your finances in a way that works for you and ensures that all your expenses are covered.

You can use your maintenance loan to pay for your daily essentials, like food and course materials, but most of your payment will likely go towards your accommodation costs. Your maintenance loan won’t always cover the entirety of your rent – the amount you’re entitled to will depend on whether or not you’re studying in London (due to the higher cost of living), and how much your parents or guardians earn.

How to pay for Uni student halls

Student halls are generally more expensive than private rented accommodation. You’re ultimately paying for a greater level of convenience and comfort. Some halls are all-inclusive, meaning that your bills are paid for by the university, and some universities even supply daily meals to their hall residents.

You’ll need to pay for your hall accommodation once your maintenance loan has been paid into your account. Due dates will differ between universities, but you can generally expect your rent to be due at the start of each term. Some universities may allow you to make your payments monthly, quarterly or yearly.

Your university will tell you how to pay rent before your first due date. Just remember how important it is to keep enough money for your rent in your bank account – you should treat your hall accommodation like a private rental and ensure that you keep on top of rent payments.

How to pay for rented accommodation

If you decided to live in a student apartment or in a PBSA ( private residence hall ), your rent due dates won’t necessarily line up with the dates you receive your maintenance loan payments, so you must be able to manage your finances effectively to meet the requirements set out by your agent or landlord.

If you live in a PBSA - Private Residence Hall, you have to make your payments quarterly or yearly. And usually all the bills are included in the price.

Don’t assume your rent is all-inclusive if you share a private student apartment; in this case, you’ll have to pay for all your utilities. Keep this in mind when managing your finances throughout the month.

Subsidising your loan

Most students will be eligible for a maintenance loan, but what you get won’t always cover all of your living costs. You may receive a smaller amount than you’d hoped for because your parents or guardians meet a certain earnings threshold – however, what they earn won’t necessarily translate into how much they’re able to give you. Unfortunately, this means that many students are left to find a way to subsidise their loans to support themselves.

No matter how much you’re awarded by Student Finance, it’s worth looking into other funding options that you might be eligible for, such as bursaries and grants. These are usually given to students whose parents or guardians are on a low income, students with disabilities, and students who have children. However, most students won’t meet the criteria to be awarded one of these additional loans – most choose to get a part-time job to earn some extra money.

Embrace the opportunity to better manage your money

So long as you plan and ensure that your finances are in order, paying for your student accommodation will be easy. You may need to get a part-time job to support yourself, but you’re likely to find that a lot of your peers will be taking this route too.

Embrace the opportunity to start managing your money and housing responsibilities during your time at university.

Author name: Julia Martin

Julia is a PhD student. Having already completed an undergraduate and postgraduate degree, she is familiar with the student loan process and enjoys sharing her tips with first-time students.

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