Going to college can be expensive, even if you’re lucky enough to be able to pay off any fees you may have for the course. Back in November 2017 we hit a six-year high rise in inflation, so regardless of if its fuel costs, paying for books or just affording food each day while you study, everyone is feeling the squeeze.
I’ve been working at SGS College now for over 5 years and made it my mission to help support students financially. In August 2017 the mission got a whole lot bigger when I was lucky enough to form the Money Management Service (MMS) team. The idea was simple, to put all the eggs in one basket and provide one service that offers information, advice and guidance on all things financial. So, regardless of whether it’s an outstanding fee, affording food or just worries about household finances, the MMS team will be able to offer you all the information you need and if we are unable to directly support you then we can signpost you to an external agency that can.
To help give you more of an idea of what we do here are 5 ways the MMS team can help you stop worrying about money:
- Bursaries. Did you know the Education and Skills Funding Agency (we just call them the ESFA) provide colleges with funding to help support students. Basically its money that you, or us on behalf of you, can use to pay for things like clothing, books and other equipment you may need while studying. It also looks at helping with transport and food costs.
Depending on age and income, you may find yourself up to £150 a month better off and that’s before we even look at what college fees we can help support with.
- Signposting. You’ve been to see us and we have looked at all the pots of money we may have available. Maybe it’s a good start to ending your worries or maybe it doesn’t even scratch the surface. Perhaps we can signpost you to external organisations that can help if you’re struggling with money. We have information for a variety of amazing organisations that can give you expert advice – companies like South Gloucestershire Advice Services, North Bristol Advice, Step Change and Turn 2 Us all give free independent advice and support. They help thousands of people a week and they can help you.
- Student Saver. Back in January our team started the MMS Student Saver page. It’s highly likely you’re reading this very blog from it! Student Saver is similar to UniDays or Student Beans – its aim is to find all the discounts and sales you might be interested in. Say you need a book for your course but it costs more than you think, perhaps the Student Saver page has a discount code. It’s always worth a look, now and then we even have exclusive offers and discounts – currently Papa John’s Pizza are offering students an exclusive 50% off when they show their student card (Filton/Bradley Stoke Papa John’s only). So whatever you are looking for, be sure to check out Student Saver first and see how we can save you money on the things you love!
- Payment Plans. So, you’ve got fees to pay, you’ve tried all the options (you’ve come to see us at this point right?!) and none of them work out for you. Well, there is always the option of a payment plan. You can discuss any outstanding debt with the finance department and they let you know how much you could pay per month for the course instead of paying it all in one go. It’s worth a chat – who knows, you might find it costs less than you think.
- MMS Day. Ok this one might be a slight cheat, but it counts. The upcoming Money Management Service Day is designed to highlight the support options available to students with outstanding fees, transport costs, food costs and/or day to day living cost worries. The MMS team will be on hand to highlight things like bursaries, learner loans, free college meals and promotion of our new MMS Student Saver page. External agencies will also be on hand to offer financial advice to you (and possibly free pizza!). The two days will also act as Finance Payment Days which will give students with outstanding fee’s another chance to come down and make payment. It’s worth attending and finding out more about the above points and what else MMS can do to help you stop worrying about money.