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Budgeting for University

When choosing a university, the cost of living there may influence your decision. Can you afford to study at that university?

Creating a student budget will help you look at all likely costs such as rent, or bills. Weigh up your expenses against the money you have coming in. If they balance, you're all set. If they don't, you'll need to make savings, or find more money.

If you don't know what costs you'll have, you'll need to estimate them to begin with. See our student budget with sample costs, below. This shows a realistic monthly income and expenditure summary for a student from England, living away from home. We've based this on costs for a student at university in the north of England. Our example shows indicative or typical costs –​ but every student's situation will be unique in terms of income and expenditure, so it's essential to think about your own circumstances.

Our budget does not include tuition fees, as your tuition fee loan normally covers the cost of your course. However, if you are at a private institution the tuition fee loan is capped at a lower amount, while the course fees can be higher than at other universities. In this case, students will need to budget to pay the difference themselves.

You can also download a blank student budget sheet (see link below). To use it, work out the right costs for where you want to study. Our page on managing your money at university will help you consider what expenses you might have, and ways you can save money.

Learn how to monitor your finances and you'll feel more in control of your money. Then you'll be free to focus on your studies and all that university life has to offer.

Annual student budget

A sample budget for 2019 entrants

Download a blank Student Budget Sheet >

Income (annual, with a monthly total) £
Maintenance Loan (means-tested)* 5,735
Voluntary household/parental contribution** 1,500
Grant or Bursary  
Term time work (est 8 hours per week) 2,155
Vacation work (est 20 hours for eight weeks) 1,296
Bank overdraft (for emergencies)  
Annual income 10,686
Monthly income 890
   
Expenditure £
Rent (private accommodation, 12 months) 420
Utility bills (Electricity, gas, water; council tax, if applicable) 30
TV licence (if applicable) and any subscriptions 13
Mobile/internet 25
Insurance (if applicable) 8
Food and drink (at home and at university) 146
Toiletries/ household, inc. laundry 30
Books and course costs 36
Clothes and shoes 30
Travel and transport (at university and to/from home) 60
REMAINDER to spend on going out, sports, gifts etc. 90
Total expenses 888

* Our example is based on a student from England, studying away from home at university in the north of England. Their parents have a joint household income of £50,000, so they would be eligible for a means-tested maintenance loan of £5,735.

** In this example, the gap between the means-tested loan and the full rate of loan for living away from home (outside of London) is £915. This gap has to be plugged by a voluntary household contribution, or by some other means.

Notes:

  • Rent: In private accommodation, a tenancy agreement is normally for 12 months. Our costs are based on the average in the north of England. For more about university accommodation, check our university profiles, 'living here' section.
  • Utility bills: Often included in the cost of university accommodation. Costs here are based on students sharing a private rented house.
  • TV License: If in halls, a student may be liable to pay a TV licence. Check whether you can be covered by your parent's TV licence (TV licensing).
  • Mobile and internet: Based on a contract. If you have a phone already, SIM-only deals offer better value.
  • Insurance: This is often included in cost of university accommodation.
  • Course costs: These will vary hugely, depending on your course, and may include field trips or placements. Ask about costs when visiting at open days.
  • Travel and transport costs: Again, these will depend on where you live, and the cost of travel home.