Get smart with your finances: Budget Wisely!
Budgeting during college is often one of the biggest challenges for students, particularly if you’re starting university for the first time.
Costs range from the student registration fee, to (if you’re moving to Maynooth) renting accommodation (plus booking deposit, bills), weekly grocery shopping for food, the usual necessary essentials (gotta get that toilet paper, soap and laundry detergent – keep the place and yourself smellin’ fresh and not funky), as well as academic related costs like books, a laptop or tablet, and student office-type supplies like notepads and folders. If you’re a commuter, there are similar sets of costs, including the cost of public or private transport.
While in isolation these costs are manageable, if you’re not smart about your spending and also your socialising, you’ll find yourself tight for cash sooner than you think.
One of your first steps is to (a) Set up a student bank account, and (b) Make out a budget plan and try to be as realistic as possible!
Many students just need to budget wisely, particularly from the start of term and before they begin, as to what they can afford to pay for rent, what money they have for ‘extra-curricular’ activities, and if looking for a part-time job at the weekend is feasible based on their level of income and expenditure, but importantly, based on their level of course work.
There’s also loads of quick tips you can put into practice to save yourself some dough – like cutting out multiple cups of coffee and instead making it at home and bringing a travel mug, making a lunch to bring with you, or use the tea/coffee making facilities and microwave here on campus in our student common room.
Many students cook at the weekend and bring frozen dinners, buy a re-usable water bottle, cut down on some unnecessary heating costs by buying extra blankets, use the library and other campus computers instead of buying laptops or notebooks, borrow books from the library instead of buying the whole reading list, and many other savings ideas which will be uploaded here soon, ones which won’t impact on the quality of your diet or your lifestyle significantly.
The National Consumer advice service also has a few handy tips for setting up for your year: http://www.nca.ie/nca/going-to-college
The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) is also a great tool and resource: https://www.mabs.ie/
Student Financial Assistance
The SUSI Grant Scheme
SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland) is the single national Awarding Authority for all new student grant applications. Applications for Student Grants are assessed under the criteria set out in the Student Support Act 2011, Student Support Regulations and the Student Grant Scheme.
Applications are made online and are subject to supporting documentation. The online application system provides you with a quick, user friendly way to apply for your grant. This website is a comprehensive source of information on the student grant scheme and provides a handy step-by-step guide to eligibility and the grants process. The online application system for the 2014/15 academic year is now open.
See www.susi.ie for more details on your eligibility criteria.
Student Assistance Fund (SAF)
The Student Assistance Fund is overseen and administered by the University Access office, and provides financial support to students who are in significant financial difficulty and whose participation in college would be at risk without support. The Fund is best described as a contributory payment which helps students meet some of the day-to-day costs associated with being in college.
For more information on the SAF, click onto: https://www.nuim.ie/access-office/student-assistance-fund
Back to Education Allowance (BTEA):
If you are unemployed, parenting alone or have a disability and are getting certain payments from the Department of Social Protection, you may attend a second-or third-level education course and get the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA).
Click here for more information on eligibility and how to apply: http://www.welfare.ie/en/pages/353_back-to-education-allowance.aspx
Your Rights as a Worker: Be informed!
Many students will work part-time hours some evenings or weekends while they are studying at university. If you are, make sure you know what your employer’s responsibilities are. http://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/