New students need to be financially savvy, or risk paying later in life

Current student debt figure stands at £18,116.3 million*

With A-Level results set to be announced this week and an expected rise in the number of students heading off for their first year at university, new students need to be aware of how easy it is to slip into debt - and how that debt can have dramatic implications post - university.

Latest research from the Association of Investment Trust Companies (AITC) reveals that students are taking on more levels of debt than ever before and a survey by Barclays bank shows that students leaving university owe an average of £13,500. This leaves many struggling to repay all their loans and credit cards for years after graduation.

Moving away from home for the first time is an exciting (if slightly scary) experience. Most new students worry about whether they will enjoy their course and if they will make new friends, but few think about how they will manage their money.

Lee Barnes, a 25 year old graduate from Leeds Metropolitan University, found himself in £60,000 of debt when he left his course. "I was using my money to live the student lifestyle and was taking bank loans to cover my day-to-day expenses, like rent. The problem was I got used to spending money. I wasn't even aware of how much I was taking on," says Lee. "It just got worse and worse and I didn't know where to turn."

The way that Lee fell in to debt is an all too familiar tale. Excessive spending on clothes, going out and holidays all add up quickly and, if bought on credit, can leave students with a debt mountain to climb as they leave university.

"Going to university is a great experience," says Melanie Mitchley, Consumer Debt Expert from Callcredit. "However, we are urging all students whether Freshers or in their final year to be aware of the potential pitfalls if they don't take control of their financial affairs. If you do decide to borrow money be aware of the amount you are borrowing and think about how you will repay it. Our experience has shown that taking on credit needn't be a problem if you manage your finances well and ensure you keep up your repayments."

"Our advice to students is to think before taking out a loan or applying for a credit card. Also, take a look at your credit report, as it will help you get an overall picture of the current state of your finances and help you decide if you really can take on any more credit." Melanie adds.

* Source Student Loans Company Provisional 06-07 figures (released 12th June 07). The balance outstanding (including loans not yet due for repayment) at the end of financial year 2006-07 was £18,116.3m (of which £17,043.4m relates to income contingent loans).