Let’s be honest, getting swept up by financial stress at university isn’t uncommon. Being raised by a single mother has made me recognise the value of money from a young age, so entering higher education initially felt like an excessive investment. Part of me felt guilty for deciding to study in the UK, especially knowing that other countries provided more affordable options. Luckily, after visiting York and speaking to students here, I realised that the university has so many support hubs for all students – including those like me who come from low-income backgrounds.
I can’t stress this enough – scholarships are a Godsend. Make the most out of them! I personally receive the York Bursary. This is automatically awarded by the University in accordance with your residual household income. Although this bursary lasts throughout the entirety of your undergraduate degree, I’d strongly recommend applying to other scholarships too. These can range from course-specific funding, to scholarships allowing access to individual projects you’re personally interested in. Why not have a cheeky browse?
I find that when people speak about financial support, there’s always a fixation with tuition fees, which is why I’ve really grown to appreciate YuFund. Similar to Mentally Fit York and York Futures, it allows the University community to gain funding for specific societies and projects.
Since joining the University Boat Club and applying for the Equal Access Grant (a subsection of YuFund), I’ve had my society joining fee paid for by the University. All the reading I have to do as an English Literature student has made my eyeballs feel like drywall, so coxswaining has been my weekly pick-me-up. Everyone’s so welcoming (although I wish the rowers would keep their crusty feet to themselves!), and the early sessions help me organise my study schedule.
I’ve learned that it’s important not to lose sight of hobbies you enjoy, because they really do make a difference. Don’t look at financial barriers as a definite block to living life the way you want to.
Obviously, I’m not suggesting you go to your local Waitrose and make it rain! Despite the scholarships, it’s important to keep track of your purchases.
There are so many resources available to students at York. In my experience, departmental emails have a weekly list of useful external opportunities, but the University is also in need of student help! I’m personally a YuCall Student Fundraiser, an English Department Ambassador, and a Student Content Creator for the Uni. I knew I wanted to work on my communication skills, but there are other opportunities available if you have different interests.
The money I earn working for the Uni practically pays for all my groceries. Having the extra funds is a massive relief. Working as a YuCall fundraiser has been one of my best experiences so far. I’ve been launched out of my comfort zone, and I’ve learned so much from my peers, whilst also networking with alumni via phone. Plus, I’ll never say no to team socials at the Charles pub! Who could with free snacks and the best company!? Waffle fries get in my tummy!
However, if you’re looking for a break from uni, I’d suggest looking at opportunities on Handshake and TargetJobs. Any volunteering or paid experiences can feel like a breath of fresh air when you’re constantly working on academic assignments.
Speaking from Experience…
I’m truly grateful for the University’s core values and devotion to philanthropy. I’m not just saying this; I can see how the Uni constantly strives to help its students through financial difficulties. Ranging from free breakfast at James College Lodge once a week, to scholarships funding societies and tuition fees – there’s something for everyone.
Being in such a closely bonded community even helped me branch out and create new friendships through scholarships and programmes. I know everyone’s situation is different, so I’d recommend looking at the Step Ahead Programme if you’re worried about starting university in general. I was able to ask students about budgeting and societies here, so I came to York fully prepared. Take a look at their eligibility criteria, it’s a great starting guide to managing uni!
As a current second-year student, I know that there are times when the pressure is palpable and intimidating, but remember that without pressure we can’t make diamonds! Cringy, I know. Having said that, I feel like it’s easy to criticise yourself for not working or earning enough.
Try not to be too harsh on yourself and recognise that although it’s great to work on achieving the best version of yourself, you’re not a school project. Yes there’s always room for improvement, but taking a moment to celebrate your achievements is equally as important as working on self-improvement. Enjoy life, you’re at uni!