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Managing money - information for final year students

If you are in your final year at UWE Bristol, we are here to help and support you with your finances and help you to manage your money. The information below provides an overview of what happens with your student loan, Council Tax, bank accounts and other financial issues when you graduate.

Student loans

Once you leave the University, the Student Loans Company (SLC) will expect you to start repaying your loans from the April after you completed your course. 

If you are earning less than the set level before any deductions (tax or national insurance contributions), you will not be liable to repay. It is important to inform the SLC that your income is too low each year by completing a deferral form.

Income threshold

You can view up-to-date details on income thresholds and repayments via the SLC's loan repayment information.

If you are earning more than the set threshold, repayments will be collected directly from your wages by HM Revenue and Customs before you receive them. The repayments are 9% of income over the threshold.

Living abroad

If you are living abroad next April, you will need to contact the SLC to arrange payments directly or complete a deferral form. A different threshold may apply if you work in a country outside the UK.

Council Tax

Whilst you have been a full-time student, your household may have been exempt from paying Council Tax or paying a reduced amount. When you have sat your last exam or handed in your last piece of work, you cease to be a student and you may become liable for Council Tax. You should notify your local authority immediately and an amended bill will be issued.

Living in a shared house

If you live in a shared household where all tenants are issued one tenancy agreement between all of you:

  • Whilst all the tenants are full time students, there will be no charge payable for Council Tax. 
  • If just one of the tenants is a non-student, there will be a 75% Council Tax charge payable.
  • If two or more tenants are non-students, there will be a 100% Council Tax charge payable.

If you live in a shared household where each tenant has their own individual tenancy agreement, this is classed as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), and liability for Council Tax should be in the landlord’s name. You will need to notify your landlord that you are no longer a student, and they are then responsible for liaising with the local authority.

If you live with a partner who is a non-student and have been receiving the 25% reduction whilst you were studying, this reduction will be removed when you cease to be a student, and a 100% Council Tax charge will be made.

Living alone

If you live alone and have been exempt from Council Tax whilst studying, a new bill will be issued with a 75% charge which includes the single occupancy discount.

If you claim and receive benefits at the end of term, you will be entitled to Council Tax Reduction to cover some or all of your share of the bill. Contact the council to let them know of your benefit claim.

For more information read the student Council Tax FAQs

Bank accounts

Any overdraft on your student account may stop being interest-free shortly after you end your course. Check when this will happen. Some banks offer graduate bank accounts which have an interest-free overdraft for up to three years, so you may wish to consider switching your bank account or bank in order to save money in interest whilst you are paying off your overdraft.

The bank may put pressure on you to take out a graduate loan to clear your overdraft. If you are on benefits or a low income, you are unlikely to be able to keep up with repayments on such a loan. In this situation, it may be better to stick with your student overdraft, or switch to a graduate bank account, rather than commit to a monthly repayment you cannot meet. You may need to negotiate some time to sort out your finances. Talk to the bank to discuss all the options.

If your benefit or wage is paid into an overdrawn account, it may be hard for you to access the money as banks can withdraw overdraft facilities with very little notice. They can also request immediate and full repayment. You may want to consider opening a basic bank account for your benefit payments.

Prescriptions

If you receive either Employment and Support or Jobseekers Allowances (income-based) or Income Support, you will be entitled to free prescriptions – keep the benefit award letter to prove receipt of qualifying benefits.

If you receive Housing Benefit only, or are on a low wage, you will need to apply for an exemption certificate in the same way you did as a student on forms HC1 and HC5.

Different criteria applies if you receive Universal Credits – see the NHS guidance on help with health costs.  

Refund of overpaid tax

If you have worked part-time during your studies, you may have paid too much tax. This can happen if you work for two employers at the same time, if you don’t provide your National Insurance number or a P45 when you start work, or if your employer has put you on the emergency tax code.

If you have earned less than the current year tax allowance, you may be entitled to a refund. You can also apply for a tax refund for previous years. To apply, you will need to request a refund in writing, enclosing P45s or wage slips, to the appropriate tax office.

You can view information on tax thresholds and claiming a refund of overpaid tax on the Gov.uk website.

Claiming benefits - UK and EU residents

The benefit system is complicated and the information below is just an overview.

A new benefit called Universal Credits is being introduced to replace many of the existing welfare benefits. Where you live in the UK and your personal circumstances will determine whether you need to apply for Universal Credits or the preexisting benefits. You can view further details of Universal Credits on the Gov.uk website.

If you are not required to claim Universal Credits then you may be eligible for the pre-existing benefits:

The following websites give further information and advice on welfare benefits:

If you require more detailed advice on welfare benefits and entitlement please contact a Money Adviser.

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