Cost of living
Increases in the cost of living are affecting many in the UK, which can make planning finances more difficult.
If you are thinking about going to university or college, it's a good idea to do some research which will help you to understand how much money you are likely to need for an academic year. Having a planned budget will help you adjust and manage your finances.
There are lots of tools available to support you with your research and budgeting. See our sections below for information and support.
Researching living costs at university or college
When you are researching universities and colleges, you can look at the cost of living in the town or city which will help you to prepare and understand how much things will cost as a student.
If you plan to move away to study, look at the accommodation options and how much they cost as this is likely to be the biggest living expense. There may be lots of different options available, including student halls of residence and private rental accommodation.
Accommodation in student halls will vary at each university: you could have a shared or private bathroom, a single or double bed, a cleaning service, catered (which includes meals) or non-catered. There are usually a lot of different options with some cheaper and more expensive choices. The accommodation office at the university and university website will be able to provide information on the options available. The course pages on Discover Uni include a link to this information in the ‘information on the uni website’ section.
See our Preparing for uni pages for further information on accommodation options.
If you need to commute to your course, you can research the travel costs such as trains, buses and/or petrol costs.
The government in England has extended the bus fare cap on many bus routes across the country with a cap at £2.50 until 30 November 2024.
How much money will I need?
The cost of living is changing frequently. When researching the living costs in a specific location, try to find information which is as up to date as possible.
You can check university or college websites for estimated costs or talk to current students in the location of your choice to find out how much they spend each month. You can also see Save the Students' guide to Student living costs in the UK 2024, although it is important to note that this is a guide and may not reflect the current costs at each university or college.
Once you have an idea about how much the accommodation may be, you can estimate how much you will need for:
- Energy bills (gas and electric if it is separate from your accommodation costs)
- Social activities (societies, gym membership, trips, sports teams, going out)
- Personal expenses (haircuts, clothes, dental costs, laundry)
- Costs related to study (books, trips, societies, course materials)
- Mobile phone
- TV and internet
- Other expenses
Some accommodation may have bills included (such as gas and electricity) within the price of the accommodation. This way you will know how much money you will have left after you have paid for your accommodation. If your energy bills are separate to the accommodation costs, you can try to estimate roughly how much you will need for gas and electricity by speaking to current students and checking the university's website on the cost of living, or checking online resources such as the Money Saving Expert tool which will help you to estimate energy costs.
Cost of living support
You will need to contact the student services department at your university or college who will provide further information and let you know if you qualify. Any amount you can receive is decided by your university or college and will be paid in a lump sum or instalments.
Financial struggles can cause worry and anxiety which can impact on your mental health. If you need support while at university, there is support available on Student Space who provide guidance on managing worry about money and what to do if you have money problems. You can find support through text, webchat, phone and email via their website.