If you’re worried about how you’re going to afford to go to university, try not to worry. There’s a lot of support available that can make it a more affordable option for lots of different circumstances.

There are also plenty of ways you can budget your money to last throughout the year.

Most university students live on a budget. It’s the best way to stay on top of your finances.

Everyone’s budget is different, but there are some common tips and tricks that you can follow to make it easier to manage.

Here are a few of our top ones.


  1. Get all the student finance support you can

It sounds like an obvious one, but many students don’t realise how much financial support is available (in addition to the student loan for tuition fees).

Make sure that you’re receiving as much financial support as possible, by knowing exactly what you’re eligible to receive.

Support you might be able to get includes:

  • Tuition fee loan (to cover the cost of your tuition fees)
  • Maintenance loan (to help with living costs)
  • Scholarships, bursaries and grants
  • Financial help for care leavers
  • Disabled Students’ Allowance
  • Adult Dependants’ Grant
  • Childcare Grant
  • Parent’s Learning Allowance
  • Travel grant

You can read a summary of each of these on The Complete University Guide website.


  1. Use a student budget calculator

Filling in a budget calculator, like this one from Which?, means you’ll be able to see exactly how much money you’ll have to spend each month.

You just need to type in your income, as well as your outgoings, to see the monthly amount you’ll have left to spend.

Your income list might include:

  • Your tuition fee loan or maintenance loan
  • A scholarship, grant or bursary
  • Money from a part-time job
  • Contributions from parents or family

Your outgoings list might include:

  • Accommodation costs
  • Tuition fees
  • Food
  • Household bills
  • Travel costs
  • Course materials


  1. Take out a set amount of cash for the week

Once you know what budget you have to work to each month, you can break this up into weeks. At the start of each week, just take out enough cash to cover your weekly budget. It’s a great way to help you to stick to your budget. And don’t forget to use cash machines with no withdrawal fees too!


  1. Compare bank accounts

Speaking of banks, there are lots of student bank accounts that offer incentives or deals when you switch to them. Some banks might offer better deals on overdrafts or student interest rates too, so compare what you currently have with what’s out there, to see if you’d benefit from switching.


  1. Get discount cards

There are great discount cards out there just for students that can help you save money on a range of things.

The NUS card (or Totum as it’s now known), costs £24 for three years and will get you discounts on hundreds of well-known retail, food, travel and entertainment brands, from Apple and ASOS to Domino’s and Booking.com.

A 16-25 rail card will get you 1/3 off the cost of train travel. It’s for everyone aged 16-25 and mature students. It costs £30 for a year, or £70 for three years. If you’re planning on visiting home in between terms or visiting friends at different universities, then you’d start saving money after just a few trips.

There are also plenty of apps that can give you access to extra discounts, like UNiDAYS. Money Saving Expert also has this page dedicated to the latest student discount deals and voucher codes.


  1. Think ahead about food

Plan as much of your food in advance as you can. Doing this will allow you to reduce your food bill because you’ll be able to buy in bulk. You could also share the cost of food with friends if you cook meals together. Take a look at these cheap and healthy meal plans for inspiration from Save the Student.

Freezing leftover food is another good way to reduce your food bill – plus it can help you out later in the week if you don’t have time to cook from scratch.

Most universities have water fountains across their campuses, so make use of those instead of paying for bottles of water. You can usually ask for a tap water refill at most of the catering outlets too.


  1. Don’t overpay for course equipment

At the start of each term, you’ll usually be given a list of books or materials that you’ll need for your course. There will be multiple places you can buy these, so shop around for the best deal, as you could save quite a bit. For example, the university library might stock a lot of the books you need, and these would be free. There are also lots of second-hand bookstores selling books in good condition at much lower prices than new ones, like World of Books. Online marketplaces like eBay or Facebook are popular with students too.

Some software can be accessed for free through your university. So, if your course requires you to use specific software, check first before you spend money on it.


  1. Don’t worry about others

Everyone’s budget will be different. So really don’t worry about what your friends are spending or how they might be budgeting. Stay focused on your own budget and know that it will all be worth it in the end!


We’re here to help

Get in touch here if you have any questions at all about student finance and budgeting. Our friendly team is here to help.

Our partner CXK has also produced a great video with some money-saving top tips. Check it out: Budgeting at University Top Tips | Save Money at Uni – YouTube

Lucy King

9 Sep 2022

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