As official figures show the unprecedented rise in student debt, Edge Hill College of Higher Education is continuing to help students manage their finances by using an interactive budget sheet called Red Alert.

The publishing of official figures by the Student Loans Company reveals outstanding student debt in the UK rising 18.7% in the 2003-04 academic year, to over £14.6bn. Furthermore, a poll of 129 students from 16 universities carried out by recent UK graduates Tom Weaver, Ash Kumar and Paul Hawkins, found that many students underestimate how long it will take to pay off their debts.

In order to avoid such mounting debt, Edge Hill offers a wide range of finance support alongside their Red Alert package, as a way of ensuring that they have access to help with managing finances.

Shahida Ahmed, Finance and Welfare Rights Advisor at Edge Hill is pleased that students are taking advantage of the tool: “Red Alert is a user-friendly budget sheet, available on the internet, that alerts students in advance, as to when they may be likely to overspend and head into the red. The survival tool then allows students to plan and manage their money, so that they can see how to make their cash stretch to cover their time in higher education.”

The importance of providing access to financial management support is significant in light of the recent findings that revealed that 58% of students received no personal finance education at school, and while some had received some instruction from their parents, 12% had received non at all.
Edge Hill is keen to stress the important of sensible budgeting, particularly as the issue of student finance continues to rage. From 2006 students will pay fees of up to £3,000, with graduates paying back this sum after they earn in excess of £15,000.

Chief Executive Dr John Cater said: “Every student needs to understand the importance of sensible budgeting, and Red Alert is an easy to use software tool that helps demystify everyday finances. Although our students may actually have immediate access to more cash in 2006, with Edge Hill providing tailored support packages for more students, many of them may also take on further debt.
This will only be repayable after graduation and by those meeting the earnings threshold, but there is no doubt that sensible debt management is an essential skill for life.”

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