Is all student debt a problem ?

Not necessarily - or at least, not immediately. Most students in the UK receive a student loan from the government, and this is one student debt you won't have to worry about too much until after you've graduated. Even then, graduates only repay their student loan once they're earning £15,000 a year (or £21,000 a year for students starting university in 2012 or later), and repayments are just 9% of earnings above this amount.

Other types of debt may pose more of an immediate problem, however. If you find yourself relying on overdrafts, credit cards, personal loans or any other type of consumer credit during your studies, you could be putting yourself at risk of serious financial difficulty.

In the case of credit cards and loans, these require regular monthly repayments that could really impact on your finances as a student. Student overdrafts may be simpler, as they don't carry strict repayment terms and often charge no interest until you've graduated - but the debt will still have to be repaid after that.

With all this in mind, it should be fairly clear that credit is generally best avoided during your studies. But what can you do if you do find yourself in trouble with debt?


How to manage debt and get back on top of your finances


As a student with limited finances you should be budgeting carefully whatever your circumstances, but it could be all the more important if you're trying to repay debt. Set yourself a realistic timescale for repaying what you owe and work it into your budget.

For example, if you have £60 a week to spend and you owe £200, then over a 10-week term you could set aside £20 a week (plus interest). Living on the remaining £40 a week might not be easy, but it's better than leaving the debt unpaid (which will allow it to grow and could get you into other kinds of trouble as well).

Don't be afraid to get help

The above advice only really applies to smaller debts that you can realistically aim to repay. If you find yourself really struggling, then you may need to look elsewhere for help.

First of all, you could ask your family (although not all families can afford to help out financially). Failing that, there is plenty of professional debt help available.

A professional debt adviser can give you tips on the best ways to tackle your debts, and if necessary may be able to help you find a suitable debt solution.