Coventry University Law graduate Sheereen Nabi gives her top tips for avoiding those hidden extra costs.
Photocopying and printing
There’s every chance you will need to print or photocopy lots of documents for study. All those sheets can add up. I was lucky at Coventry, I got printing credits for 1000 sheets of A4 as part of my “No Hidden Extras” package so it is worth checking out whether your university offers a similar deal.
If it doesn’t, don’t despair, you can still save money. Wherever possible print in black and white rather than colour and print on both sides of the paper. If your final document has to be printed double spaced, print draft copies single spaced or better still, avoid printing it out until you really have to. And of course, you can still take notes from the screen or text without having to photocopy at all.
Course text books
Depending on what you’re studying, the price of your annual course textbooks can really mount up, costing several hundred pounds a year. Core text books were included as part of my package at Coventry and in the third year we were given £250 of book credits which really helped. Ask your university if any help is available with texts.
Unless your course requires an extremely updated textbook, you will probably be able to find second hand versions online or from other students. The library is also a great resource so get library savvy. Learn to take out books before your course covers them so they aren’t snapped up by other students or reserve books that are in high demand.
Finally, consider renting book. Blackwells will allow you to rent course books for 30, 60 or 90 days at a time and claims it could save you 66% on the cost of the books.
Rent a laptop
It’s frustrating going to computer rooms and finding every single monitor in use. The obvious answer would be to buy a laptop but that is another added expense in itself and one which some students simply can’t justify. At Coventry University, we had the option to hire laptops free of charge around campus, a life saver during busy periods. For many students having guaranteed access to a laptop makes a real difference. Unlike the library computers, there are always enough laptops to go round.
Plenty of universities now offer this option. Some charge for it, some don’t so it is important to check out what your university’s policy is.
Depending on what you’re studying it may be more than textbooks you will have to buy. Fashion students can find themselves spending lots on fabrics and sewing equipment. Others like medical students might need lab coats, stethoscopes or fob-watches.
Again, look online for second hand equipment or materials you may be able to purchase at a cheaper price or speak to students in higher years who may be finished with their own equipment and willing to sell it to you at a much-reduced rate.
Avoid library fines
Sounds silly right? But you’d be surprised how many students get caught out by this one and how those fines can mount up if you don’t return your textbooks on time. Before you know it you could find yourself owing £40-50.
In addition, many universities expect you to pay your debts before you graduate so even just a few pounds owing can make a big difference. Make sure you keep on top of when your books need to be back and avoid any the unnecessary expense.