The motorways are full of cars stuffed with bedding, kettles and terrified-looking teenagers. It can mean only one thing: the university term is kicking off, with some 400,000 freshers about to start their new degrees.
Latest figures from Standard Life reveal students now pay an average £320 a month in rent and £58 on utilities - add that to food, fun and transport costs, factor in the tuition fees payable soon after graduation, and it is clear that cost-cutting must begin at the start of uni.
But there are some easy sources of funding, beyond the official routes, especially for low-income families:
* Look for easy sources of funding. Beyond the official routes of student finance, most universities run bursary schemes for students from families below a certain level of household income. The average pays out almost £1000, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Contact your university welfare department and students’ union. Hot Courses’ Scholarship Search (scholarship-search.org.uk) has hordes more awards, broken down according to subject and home town.
* Insurance: the value of the average student’s laptop, ipod, ipad, jewellery and more quickly adds up. Check whether your parents’ home insurance provider includes possession insurance for students. Many only cover one child so if you’ve siblings at university, watch out. If not, talk to specialists providers Endsleigh, Cover4Students.com or Saxon about getting cover.
* The student account. Ignore the squeezy brain-shaped stress ball freebie: it’s not worth it. Go for the account with the most generous overdraft, it’ll be far more useful. Those from HSBC and Halifax both pay out £3000 a year for every year of a degree.
* Budget. Work out your cash coming in and cash going out, and don’t spend more than the former! Education charity Brightside has a useful budgeting tool at www.studentcalculator.org.uk/.
* Sign up for a National Union of Students card - its discounts include McDonald’s. Amazon and Asos. Don’t be shy. Ask for money off in a store, even if a discount isn’t advertised. Look out for special student deals on transport, and cut your book bill by buying second-hand textbooks. Go supermarket shopping late at night to snap up reduced food, and team up with fellow students to take advantage of bulk-buying offers.