Student Money Survey 2014 – Results

Towards the end of each academic year we stop talking and really listen to find out how current university students feel about their financial situation.

For our National Student Money Survey 2014, 2,820 students shared their experiences and opinions with us (admittedly we did lure them in with free Nando’s).

How concerned are students when it comes to money?

80% of students surveyed said that money worries are on their mind throughout university.

The impact of this on broader student welfare is clear, with almost one-half claiming that worrying about money adversely affects their course studies and the majority believing it causes their diet to suffer.

Student comments:

Students are given a lot of money in loans, but rent and living costs are simply too much

– I can’t afford to travel to a bigger uni for resources, and I can’t buy books I need!

– There are days I had to starve myself so that I have enough food for the week

– My friend had to turn vegetarian because she can’t afford to buy meat any more

– It’s not difficult to live within your means, some people just don’t know what their means are

– I think a lot of students exaggerate their money struggles as a point of pride

ave the Student has long campaigned for personal finance education in schools. It’s clear that whilst many university students struggle to live on little money, some aren’t taking account of their spending against their income to ensure it meets everyday needs over long periods.

Student comments:

– We should have been given finance lessons when coming to university, most students have never had to budget before. I came from earning £200 a month in a part-time job at Halfords to being given £1,750 in my first month at university. I spent the lot in the first two weeks and survived on pasta and lentils for the next two months!

– With careful planning of money it’s easy to make it stretch further and not have to worry about it

How do students feel about their student loans?

This year exactly half of all students surveyed said that they were worried about repaying their student loan, with slightly more admitting they don’t actually understand the repayment conditions. This demonstrates a severe case of confusion and lack of finance education (if you’re in the 55% you can find out everything you need to know here).

Beyond the loan, a significant majority of students are worried about what’s in store for them once they graduate. The quotes below highlight the most popular sources of worry.

Student comments:

– It is ridiculous that the student funding I receive makes me fully dependant on my parents

– If I was to survive just on the loan I was given, after rent was taken out, I would only have £24 a month

– Just because my parents are together I get hardly any money in comparison to someone with divorced parents who gets the maximum, even though one parent is richer than both mine put together

– I worry about getting a job when I graduate that can support me financially

– I’m so confused about the [loan] repayments that it worries me most weeks

How do students spend their money?

We’ve been publishing the results of our annual surveys on monthly student spending for several years now, but for 2014 there have also been some notable – verging on seismic – changes.

Whilst rent has increased very slightly on 2013’s surge, spending on food has plummeted. In fact, in most categories spending has fallen compared to last year, down £38 across the board.

The spend each month on “luxury” items such as clothes and socialising have taken a small hit, however travel costs have jumped from £40 to £44.

On average, £5 is spent on illegal drugs each month, which may come as a surprise to some.

It may be that students are becoming increasingly sensitive to their spending habits, perhaps due to a higher awareness of ‘student debt’ since the fee increase along with the wider economic climate of austerity.

How do students earn money?

From the results above, we can see that the average student in 2014 spends £735 a month. When you consider that the average maintenance loan (for a student living outside of London) only covers £458 of living costs each month, it naturally makes you wonder where are students finding the extra £277 of income to supplement their spending?

Of course part-time jobs are typically seen as the first port of call, but in reality employment is only a source of income for one-in-six students. Assuming students can find part-time work in the first place, holding down a job to pay the bills during term time could have an adverse affect on academic study and other commitments.

Student comments:

– Having to work is having an impact on my studies and even getting in the way of my relationship

– I find it’s practically impossible to be able to handle a job as well as the workload I have on my course for me to be able to get a good grade. I’m suffering as a result

Universities and wider student funding support just over 10% of students with living costs, however the most popular plug in the student’s budget shortfall is the Bank of Mum and Dad (read on for more on this). High street banks also play their role, in providing student (hopefully 0%) overdrafts and a home for savings which encouragingly feed into the income streams of one-in-ten students.

Whilst relatively small, it is worrying to see some students turning to credit cards and payday loans to supplement their income.

Here at Save the Student we have also noticed an upward trend in students looking for alternative ways to make money, turning to opportunities online (eg. paid surveys) and even taking part in medical research. Plus these gems…

Strange/original ways students make money:

– I’ve taken trolleys back to Sainsbury’s so I can have the pound in them

– Selling plums grown in my garden

– I once had to pretend I was dating a girl, and her Dad paid me for it

– Butler in the buff

– Matched betting (guide)

– Selling used soap online

– Webcam girl during college

Where do students turn for money in an emergency?

With more and more students struggling to keep up with rent and the growing costs of living, it’s important to think about who or where they turn to in a financial emergency. Here are our findings:

It seems that in a time in their life when students are looking to become more financially independent, the majority still depend on their parents for financial support. However, one-third of those surveyed also feel that they do not receive enough help from their parents.