Going to university is a scary and exciting time in the life of a student. It’s a time of transition and it’s a time of independence. You’re not quite away from the parents just yet – there is still that invisible string that pulls you back between each successful semester at university – but you get the chance to spend a big part of the year away and living with your friends in the student halls instead. There’s an independence from being completely financially supported, too, as you take on the student loans and grants that are going to support you through your years of university. The problem isn’t that going to university is scary – it’s a thrill – but it’s that the debt you are possibly left with is scary. And that’s exactly what puts a lot of people off going.

Access to education is a human right, but going to university somewhere far from home and studying at an academically higher level is a privilege. What isn’t a privilege is the cost that comes with it, because an education isn’t free. Unless you’ve been raised in a family that has saved your student costs their whole lives, there’s a chance that you’re going to be living with a level of debt throughout your years of studying. Student debt is the backpack of rocks on the shoulder of every student; those hungry to learn more soon learn that more education costs more money in grants and loans. Tuition fees are as high as £9,000 per year, and this is before you factor in general rent and living costs. By the time the average undergraduate makes it to graduation, they’re sitting on almost £40,000 in debt – not the best way to start out in life.

There are things that any graduate can do, however, to lessen the student debt that they head out into the world with, and we’ve got five of the best tips for you below:

Summer Jobs

Before heading to university, you get a whole summer just after you complete your A Levels/college years. Use the time that you have to get a summer job and discuss with your parents being able to save every penny that you earn to go toward your living costs at school. You may not make enough to pay off the tuition costs, but you can make enough to go on top of your grant money for your living costs and your food budget. Not only are these a good way to save money, but you can also gain some valuable experience to put on your CV.

Borrow Carefully

There are student loans out there that you can get that you don’t pay back until you’re in full time work, but student finance doesn’t cover everything. Your bank may offer a student account with a 0% overdraft while you are still in school, which can be a big help to students.

Go Part-Time

You can choose the route of the Open University to study. This allows you to study your course part-time while working part-time. Gaining experience and earning cash while studying at the same time is hard, but it can be done. The OU have seen over 2 million students receive an education, otherwise denied to them at campus-based universities.

Budget Smartly

Once you know the total figure that your student finance gives you, you should consider sitting down and budgeting everything that you have to pay out for, and how to decrease your regular outgoings and unnecessary luxuries. From the big expenses like your rent to the smaller ones like the internet bill, you need to figure out every expense for every month and match that up with your student grants. You may not have enough to cover them all, which is why a part-time job could be the best thing that you do.

Pay Off Your Loans Up Front

This isn’t something that every student can do, but if you are in the fortunate position to pay your tuition fees up front, you’re going to graduate with very little – if any – debt. You may have a student overdraft or student loan from the bank to pay, but you won’t have the whopping interest and fees to pay off. This is one of the smartest ways to avoid debt after university, but it’s not always achievable. If this is something you can do, go for it – the stress relief is massive!

Student debt is one of the biggest reasons that people choose to avoid going to university. The best thing that you could do to achieve your dreams is to work it out and figure out a way to make university happen for you – whatever it takes!