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Web round-up: Managing the cost of higher education

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Getting into university is quite often the easy part, while figuring out how to pay for it is the real challenge. And higher education could get even more expensive if university chiefs get their way.

Vice-chancellors from 12 universities said in a report commissioned by Universities UK that an average fee of up to 7,000 pounds a year is necessary to secure long-term funding for teaching. The National Union of Students condemned the proposal, saying that it would deter poorer students from applying and leave graduates with massive debts.

If you are going to start university soon or are already enrolled, or if you are a parent about to send your child to university, there are a number of online tools and resources that will help you to better understand tuition fees and find financial support if you need it.

Moneysavingexpert.com has teamed up with the Department of Education to produce a free parents guide to student finance which shows how student finance works and how you can get your kids into higher education without taking on too much financial strain. The guide has everything you need to know about funding university, from financial support to student bank accounts and tips on getting a part-time job.

Out of work: Useful resources

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Losing your job can come as a massive shock, even if it is something you have been worrying about for months. The latest figures show that for the first time in over a decade the number of people out of work has risen above two million.

If you are one of them, you probably want to find a new job as quickly as possible. Here are a number of useful resources to help you.

A lifeline or a time bomb?

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Chancellor Alistair Darling has delivered a 20 billion pound fiscal stimulus package to get the nation spending again and mitigate the worst effects of the downturn.

He cut VAT to 15 from 17.5 percent just in time for Christmas shopping – a move he said would put some 12.5 billion pounds in consumers’ pockets over 13 months. Other measures include well-leaked plans to help homeowners, small businesses, parents and pensioners.

Why life doesn’t begin at 40…

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pensioners.jpgThink you’ve got plenty of time to save for retirement, boost your bank balance or achieve the level of wealth you’ve always aspired to? Think again.

While it might be said that life begins at 40, this is far from the case on the financial front: wage growth stalls 30 years before the average retirement age, according to personal finance website Fool.co.uk.

The hangover costs of “bling”

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bling.jpgThese days, “keeping up appearances” has less to do with the pompous Hyacinth Bucket (or should that be “Bouquet”?) of the British sitcom of the same name, more to do with “bling” and extravagant spending by the younger generation.

A survey of 1,619 consumers, commissioned by mobile banking service Monilink, found that 71 percent of 16 to 34-year-olds admitted secretly competing with their friends in the purchase of “luxury” products — cosmetics, gadgets, clothes and the like. Image concerns are the key driver of this “bling-itis”. Over half (56 percent) of those questioned say they believe people are judged on appearances and possessions in modern British society, rather than personality.

Tuesday’s headlines

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mail-pic.jpgHere is a round-up of Tuesday’s headlines:

DAILY MAIL: Father of Four Taken to Court and Fined…Because he Overfilled his Wheelie-Bin by Just Four Inches

Bus driver Gareth Corkhill collected a conviction and a 210 pound fine after he declined to pay a council on-the-spot fine for leaving the lid of his wheelie bin ajar four inches. Story here.

The little white lie that could spell financial ruin

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cash.jpgA little white lie never hurt anyone, right? Wrong: it could have serious financial implications for your future. A growing number of people are getting into financial difficulty at a younger age and are then telling lies on applications forms to obtain credit, insurance and other products, according to CIFAS, the UK’s fraud prevention service.

The number of application fraud cases filed on the CIFAS database increased from 62,000 in 2004 to 77,000 in 2007, an increase of more than 24 percent. In each of these cases, people told “material falsehoods” on application forms or supplied false or altered documents to support them. The lies most frequently told included trying to conceal a poor credit history or exaggerating the length of time resident at a particular address in the belief that stability increases creditworthiness.

Is curry the latest for the spending chop?

The Friday night take-away, Saturday shopping spree and summer get-away are in line for the chop, as consumers become increasingly nervous over looming recession. Almost nine out of 10 Britons say they will cut spending on non-essential items to cushion themselves against impending economic downturn, according to a poll of 1,000 people for Web site Fool.co.uk.

A British institution — the good old take-away — is set to receive the biggest blow, with over two-thirds of the nation planning to cut back on curries, fish suppers and late-night kebabs, the survey says. Other planned cutbacks include retail therapy (67 percent) and fewer holidays (49 percent), while 12 percent plan to stop smoking, 4 percent to put pension contributions on hold and 3 percent say they will even cut their kids’ pocket-money.

Let’s talk about debts, baby

Money matters are climbing the list of the talks parents feel they must have with their children: the subjects of debt and saving for the future are now deemed to be more important than educating our offspring on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), racism or religion, research by Engage Mutual Assurance shows.

Debt is the most common financial topic of parental education (64 percent) followed by saving for the future (62 percent). That ranks them fifth and sixth in the top 10 topics for parental “chats”, ahead of racism (58 percent), illness and death (53 percent) and STDs (52 percent). The only “facts of life” considered more important than these money matters in children’s at-home education are drugs and alcohol (78 percent), personal hygiene (74 percent), talking to strangers (73 percent) and the “birds and the bees” (71 percent).

Consumers go it alone as storm clouds gather

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storms21.jpgThe dust has settled on Alistair Darling’s first Budget and consumers have been given little reason for celebration. The Chancellor, though announcing various measures designed to increase housing affordability, has done nothing to help the masses.

There were no moves to give a helping hand to hard-pressed householders, already struggling amid rocketing mortgage, food, fuel and tax costs, to ride out an impending recession. Darling did pledge to introduce a savings scheme targeted at low and moderate earners, often least able to save: the “saving gateway” will attract government matching for savings over the duration of people’s participation in the scheme. This has the potential to introduce up to eight million people into mainstream savings in the UK who otherwise might not make thrift a priority.

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