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Money lessons for first-time students

Its an exciting time, but also expensive. Students and their parents should be aware of the costs and plan carefully.

Advice for students

  • Open a student current account. All the banks offer fee-free banking to students. Many offer interest-free overdrafts and have credit cards for students. Think carefully about whether you will use one or both of these, and discuss it with your parents. It is great to have access to funds for emergencies, but everything must be paid back and you should stay within your budget. If you use an overdraft or credit card, do so carefully and repay it as early as possible. See the limit as just that the maximum possible, not a target. Many students build up credit-card debt and are then unable to pay it. In addition to the interest charges, you may also damage your credit rating, which can have repercussions years after you leave college.
  • If you are eligible for a grant, you should have already made your initial application, through susi.ie. If you havent and you think you may qualify, apply immediately, as late applications will lead to delays in receiving your payments. The earliest payment is mid-October, so you need to cover your costs until then. There are other scholarships and grants available to students. You can find more at studentfinance.ie.
  • Work out your budget for the year and stick to it. Your major outgoings will be rent and utilities, if you are living away from home, and rents are currently high. Investigate your options and decide what you can afford, and how it will be paid. Then, you have food, travel costs, books and other college supplies. It is vital that you know your weekly and monthly budget, so as to avoid being caught for cash towards the end of term.
  • If you will need part-time work during the year, get a headstart and begin looking now. Cities and towns with student populations will be inundated with job-hunters in September.

Once you know where you will be studying, start applying for work with suitable hours. Dont over-commit to working hours. Remember, your primary aim is to study, so look for only as much work as you need.

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