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By The Next Step

Loan management advice for medical and dental students

3 min
Female doctor standing outside wearing facemask

If you're a student in the UK applying to Student Finance England (SFE), your main source of income will be a student loan. When you see such a large sum of money appearing in your bank account, you’ll find yourself resisting the urge to spend it all at once during your first semester.

However, it’s a good idea to manage your loan and set budgets for yourself so you can budget for periods of time spent outside of university, such as your summer break. This will set you in good stead for life after graduation.

Your student loan is meant to cover everything including rent, bills, food, household goods and books. Future Finance suggests the average student will only be given around £3,000 per semester, leaving little left over in the pot.

It's also important to remember that if you’re an international student studying in the UK, you won’t receive any funding from SFE and will have to source your funding independently.

Hidden fees…

Five to six years of living expenses can have a huge impact on your finances, but there are also costs that many medical and dental students don’t consider.

These costs include:

  • Travel to clinical placements
  • Textbooks and equipment required for your degree
  • Society fees and recreational expenses
  • Overdrafts
  • Maintenance expenses that the student loan doesn’t cover 

A survey from The Royal Medical Benevolent Fund (RMBF) found that 68% of students experienced significant costs involved in studying medicine that they hadn’t anticipated before they began their course.

Respondents highlighted costs associated with travel whilst on placements (49%), accommodation (48%), professional clothing (39%) and conferences (34%) as difficult to manage during their medical degree.

So, how can you balance the books better?

In your penultimate and final years of study, it’s good practice to be financially stable to ease pressures in FY1 and dental foundation training. For FY1, you will need to be registered with the GMC and GDC before you start working.

In line with GMC registration fees, the application for full registration with a licence to practise is £161.00 for a junior doctor. 

For dentists, the fee you pay depends on your profession and when you send in your application for registration. See exactly how much you will need to pay on the GDC website.

We all know that budgeting is important. Although it may seem obvious, looking at your incomings and outgoings can help you prepare and identify potential saving opportunities.

But don’t leave yourself cold and hungry. Prioritise the essentials first and then factor in the cost of socialising. As research from The BMJ has shown, seven out of 10 UK medical students are cutting down on essentials such as heating, food, or professional clothes in order to economise.

Increasing your funds

For more disposable income during your break, it’s worth considering a summer job. Working during term time may seem an attractive prospect, but the last thing you want to do is overload yourself and fall behind on your studies.

Holiday work or occasional work such as university open days will help you build savings or paying off debts without adding additional pressure to your schedule.

It’s also worth looking into job opportunities that relate to your career. For example, if you’re a dental student you could look at part time work as a dental nurse which could help you build your knowledge and experience of working in a practice and open future opportunities after graduation.   

Finally, if you've received financial support from family in the past, it’s a good idea to speak to them about your budget and see if they’re able to help.