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Tips on how to prepare financially for university

If you're taking a gap year before heading off to university to do an undergraduate course in the UK, it makes sense to use this year effectively and save up some cash. Of course you want to spend some of the time enjoying yourself, either travelling, volunteering or generally making the most of the freedom that comes with finishing college. However, with tuition fees rising next year and many institutions hiking them to the full 9,000, you are going to need as much financial assistance as possible. Your student loan is unlikely to cover all living costs as well as tuition fees. Students in the capital and other large cities in the south are going to suffer the greatest financial struggle and starting university on empty is not a good idea.

So here are some tips on how to muster as much cash as possible during the next 12 months.

Work, work, work

Unfortunately, the only real way to make money is to earn it. Graduate jobs are in short supply, but part-time, shift, casual and seasonal employment options are actually quite numerous. Extra jobs are always on offer in shops in the run up to Christmas, providing the perfect opportunity to make some extra cash.

If you can, try and get onto a work experience scheme in line with your future career plans. However, look for internships that actually pay. Not only can you earn some much needed cash, you'll be learning valuable skills that will stand you in good stead once you finish university.

Go sale shopping

Shopping, really?! Folders, note pads and pens are essential student items, but the cost of them all can mount up. If you see any of these things on sale, snap them up and plenty of them. The same applies to mugs, plates, cutlery and cooking equipment as well as bedding and towels. You'll also need a laptop; early planning and making the most of sales, particularly in January, is a great way of finding a bargain. You'll have to buy all this stuff at some point so it makes sense to buy it when it's cheap.

Save, save,save

No matter how small your pot of money, put it into a savings account. Seeing as you want flexibility, your best bet is an instant access account. Santander savings rates on these types of accounts are some of the best on the high street. Currently you can get 3.10% with its eSaver account and you can start saving from just 1.

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