Nearly a third of full-time students are juggling debts other than their student loan, including those from credit cards, overdrafts and cash from family and friends, research has found.
Some 31% of full-time students aged 18 to 24 years old are currently borrowing outside their student loan, owing £3,409 on average, according to National Debtline, run by charity the Money Advice Trust (MAT).
The survey of more than 2,000 young people in this age group found those with credit card debt owe £460 on average, those who owe money on an overdraft are £858 in the red typically and those who owe cash to family and/or friends need to pay them back £7,094 typically.
Nearly one in three (30%) of those who have borrowed money already feel their debts, including student loans, are a “heavy burden”.
One in eight (12%) do not expect to ever be able to repay what they currently owe.
Nearly half (49%) of the students surveyed said they regularly worry about money and 17% sometimes lose sleep due to fretting over money.
Around two-fifths (39%) agreed that managing money had turned out to be harder than they thought – although seven in 10 (70%) do have a budget that they try to stick to.
Two thirds of full-time students (67%) had turned to a parent for advice, while only 12% had contacted a student money adviser and 2% had sought advice from a money or debt advice charity.
The MAT has called for a Government review of the impact the student loan system is having on young people’s financial behaviour, amid concerns it is “normalising” debt for young people.
It has also suggested the way student loans are paid should be shifted from payments per term to monthly payments, to help students prepare for money management when they enter the world of work and start receiving monthly wages.
Joanna Elson, chief executive of the MAT, said: “It is a sad fact that too many students are being weighed down by debt problems.
“As our research shows, this issue goes beyond student loans – which are a very different kind of debt – to significant proportions of students already holding debts on credit cards, overdrafts and to family and friends.
“Students can of course generally anticipate higher incomes later in life, but it is essential that any debt problems are tackled early. Practical reforms to student finance payments would help – and we also need universities, students unions and advice charities to work together to do more to raise awareness of the free advice that is available.”
Here are some of its tips:
:: Draw up a realistic budget. Write down your income and everything you spend in a typical month.
:: Consider ways to increase your income. Check if you can claim any benefits, tax credits, grants or bursaries.
:: Make your money go further. Try selling unwanted items online. If you are looking for a bargain, some websites also list unwanted items that people are giving away for free.
:: Take care with contracts, from mobiles to gym memberships. Make sure you do not end up paying for more than you need.
:: Choose your bank wisely. Some banks may offer perks, but consider whether you will actually use them.
:: Try to set aside some cash when you can to build a rainy day fund for unexpected expenses.