You may not be familiar with the term Buy-now-pay-later (BNPL), but you may have seen lenders you have done any online shopping in the lead up to Christmas. BNPL Lenders such as Klarna (the UK’s largest provider), Clearpay and LayBuy are names you may see when you get to the checkout on your favourite websites such as ASOS, Pretty Little Thing and JD Sports.
BNPL firms allow people to split the cost of their shopping into “more manageable” chunks over time or by “postponing” their bill interest-free.
Currently, more than 17 million UK customers have used BNPL companies to make online purchases, company data has shown.
Citizens Advice have released figures that 1 in 10 Buy Now Pay Later shoppers have been chased by debt collectors. Rising to 1 in 8 for young people.
The risk with how BNPL companies operate is the fact that it is not primarily based on credit. If you were to get a credit card or a loan, for example, the companies would run a credit check on yourself to ensure that your credit score is high enough to allow for the repayments. With most credit cards, if you don’t meet your payments you will get charged interest.
However, BNPLs do not run credit checks or charge interest. They assume customers will be able to meet the repayments be it weekly or monthly. The issues arise when payments are not made, fees for missed payments will then be charged. If any payments are missed BNPLs will often refer the customer to debt collection agencies instead to recoup the costs. (Please note, terms and conditions vary between companies).
As it currently stands, BNPL lenders are currently unregulated and there are calls from certain MPs to ask retailers to stop using BNPLs on their websites until it is properly regulated. However, regulation is in the pipeline.
Around the festive period, it is very easy to get absorbed in all the commercialism and need and want to gift people. However, within the Financial Guidance Team, we advise students to use the Money Saving Expert Mantra to ask themselves the following questions prior to purchasing.
· Do I need it?
· Can I afford it?
· Will I use it?
So, prior to making any purchases, take a moment, pause and think of the mantra. If you can’t afford something today. Why don’t you save up and buy it tomorrow?
If you are planning on making any purchases in the lead up to Christmas, ensure that you make the most of all the money-saving opportunities as a student through the numerous Student Discount providers. Such as UniDays, Student Beans and Totum.
Like the majority of University Students in the UK, you will be spending your first term of 2021 at the University of Northampton working from home. That is unless you’re on an allied health professional course. With so many students now moving back home the Student Loans Company (SLC) have released new guidance.
No matter where you live during your period of study your Tuition Fee loan is exactly the same. However your Maintenance Loan is dependent on where you live during term times. They are the following:
For individuals studying at the University of Northampton, you only need to worry about Living at home or Living away from home, outside of London. The approve image shows the maximum amount of loan an individual can get. Maintenance Loans are means tested dependent on household income.
Under normal situations, if you were to move back home during term time you would be reassessed and your loan amount would be reduced to the ‘Living at home’ rate. Currently, the UK Government has made the decision for those students who are still having to pay accommodation costs – both in on and off campus/private accommodation will not be reassessed. This is to provide students who are still paying rent the financial support that they need during these extraordinary circumstances.
Do you need to tell the SLC if you have moved back home?
You only need to do this if you have moved back home properly. By that we mean that you are no longer having to payout for accommodation costs such as rent. If you are still having to pay for accommodation costs, please do NOT update your SLC account as they will re-asses you to the ‘Living at Home’ rate of loan for this January.
However, if you have moved home properly make sure to update you account to reflect your new living situation. This will allow your rate of loan to reflect your living situation and will amend the amount that you will potentially pay back.
To update your information about you living accommodation and to make any changes, visit you SLC online account here.
If you are undecided about your accommodation in the future and plan on moving away from home in the third term, due to the uncertainty of how Covid-19 will affect face to face and remote teaching and learning, the Government advice and guidance will be updated accordingly. As soon an we know anything else, we will update this blog accordingly.
Can you get any extra funding costs to cover the costs of moving back home and studying at home?
For many people working from their ‘home’ home is not as effective as whilst working at University. For many people they have experienced some new costs and unplanned expenditure. For many students who have had their income reduced due to being furloughed or because of their loss of employment this can be an extremely challenging time.
However, you cannot get any extra funding from the SLC to cover the costs of ‘living at home’ For those receiving the Maintenance Loan for living at home, should be able to cover the costs associated with living at home. For those of receiving the ‘living away from home’ rate of Maintenance Loan will continue to do so to cover costs such as accommodation.
The University of Northampton, has received money from the Office for Students (OfS) and is able to provide a Covid Hardship Fund which all students are eligible for provided they meet the requirement criteria. The Covid Hardship Fund, can be used for students to purchase equipment that they may need to work effectively from ‘home’ home or to cover short fallings brought in by the Covid-19 pandemic.
To find out more about the Covid-19 Hardship fund, take a look at our recent blog post here.
If you’re still to apply for Student Finance this year, what should you put on your application for living arrangements for this term?
If you are going to be at home for the majority of this January term – with the current uncertainty surrounding Covid-19, this could be extremely likely. Yet, you’re still having to pay accommodation costs for you accommodation away from home such as rent. You should still put ‘living away from home’ for this term on your application. If you won’t have these costs, then put ‘living at home’.
If you still have accommodation costs, even through you’ve moved back home and don’t want the higher rate of loan?
You must inform the SLC in regards to any changes to your contact address by logging into you account. If you do not want to continue receiving the higher Maintenance Loan of ‘living away from home’, you’ll need to update the extra step when updating your contact address to tell us about your change of living arrangements fo the majority of this January term.
Once that change has been made, they will re-asses your student finance and reduce your entitlement for the January term. If you have already received the higher rate as your January Maintenance Loan payment, the SLC will recover the ‘overpayment’ from future payments.
If you receive your student finance from Student Finance Wales, Student Finance Northern Ireland?
The current information about the ‘living away from home’ loan rate mentioned throughout this blog, focusses on those receiving funding fro Student Finance England. However, the rules are pretty much the same, if you are still having to pay for accommodation costs whilst living at home due to Covid-19 restrictions, you will still be entitled to the ‘living away from home’ Maintenance Loan.
If you have any questions or concerns about your student finance, feel free to contact the University of Northampton Financial Guidance Team by either emailing email@example.com or visiting the Financial Guidance page of the Student Hub.
Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the entirety of the world. The financial implications of such have been felt by many, but especially by University Students. With many students struggling with the loss of part time work, being placed on a reduced income because of furlough and the increased expenditures that often come with being at home.
The University of Northampton have received additional funds from the Office for Students (OfS) to support students through this extremely difficult and uncertain time. The OfS Covid-19 Hardship Fund, is available to all students studying at the University of Northampton, to support those who are facing financial hardship as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The OfS Covid-19 Hardship Fund can offer short term support only, with its intended purpose to be a contribution towards essential costs for those who have had a reduction in earnings or have lost their income, or those who have additional costs due to the result of the current pandemic. The Financial Guidance team will not consider requests for support towards the cost of fines issued by the University or the Police as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Fund will be available to all University of Northampton Home, EU and International students who are enrolled on a full-time or part-time, Undergraduate or Postgraduate course or studying with a University of Northampton Sub-Contract partner. Please be aware that the OfS Covid-19 Hardship Fund is limited and applications will be processed in date order by the Financial Guidance Team.
The awards available will be capped as follows:
‘Home’/UK students without dependents: £300
‘Home’/UK students with dependents: £500
EU students who are eligible to receive the Tuition Fee Loan support only/International Students: £500
To apply for the OfS Covid-19 Hardship fund, please complete the application which can be found on the Student Hub:
The deadline for all applications is Wednesday 17th March 2021. The Financial Guidance Team will not be able to accept any applications submitted after this date. Please be aware that funds are limited and may be fully allocated before this deadline date.
The Financial Guidance team have created a Frequently Asked Questions document, which can be found here:
The Coronavirus pandemic has changed everyday life dramatically – it’s a very confusing and anxious time for many, and although the primary focus is health, there is likely to be an impact on money too.
However, we have compiled some Frequently Asked Questions which can help if you have any queries about finances during this time.
University may be the first time you’ve needed to manage your money – and getting into good habits with your bank account can help.
We have produced a two-part guide to getting the most out of your bank account: part one – which looks at choosing a student bank account, checking your balance regularly, and limiting transfers – can be found here; part two – understanding overdrafts, checking unnecessary spending, having two bank accounts, and where to find further support – is below.
University may be the first time you’ve needed to manage your own money – and getting into good habits with your bank account can help. Although we can’t tell you who to bank with or guarantee that your balance will always be in credit, we can advise you on how to take simple steps to make the most of your account – and your money – with our two-part guide.
Going to university is exciting, but it can also be daunting – especially if you’re having to manage your money for the first time.
If you’re starting university this year, here are some tips on student finance and funding from some of our current students* to help you get it right; part 1 – which considers applying for funding, budgeting, and student bank accounts – can be found here.
Going to university is exciting, but it can also be daunting – it may be the first time you’ve lived away from home, organising your studies around food shopping, doing laundry, paying bills, etc. But managing your money doesn’t have to be stressful.
If you’re heading to university this year, here are some tips on student finance and funding from some of our current students* to help you get it right. Part one – which looks at applying for funding, budgeting, and student bank accounts – is below.
Starting new habits doesn’t mean having to completely change your life. Although making adjustments to your usual behaviour can be scary, even taking small steps can help improve your wellbeing – as well as your bank balance.