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Student Living Costs

Whilst you are at university (and particularly if you are living away from home), your spending patterns may be very different to what they have been up to now.  It can be difficult to work out how much you’re likely to spend as a student.  We’ve provided a brief guide to some of the main expenses to give you an idea of how much you might expect to spend each month in your first year.  Should you want a full budget planner please just contact us.  You will, however, need to look at your own personal spending style in order to make more accurate budget estimates.

The examples provided here are worked out on the basis of a 38 week period, which covers a normal academic year.

Accomodation – (£230 / £350 per month)

This all depends on your area and the type of accomodation, many first year students opt for university halls either catered or self-catering flats.  Energy and water bills will usually be included in your rent.  This figure is based on a 12 month contract.

Food (£120 – £140 per month)

The amount you spend will depend on how much you eat and how expensive your tastes are!  If you are in catered halls of residence, some of your meals will be included in your rent.

Study costs – (£45 per month)

Costs will depend on the subject you’re studying and can include books, stationery, photocopying, field trips, specialists materials or equipment.

Clothes/Toiletries (£50 -£60 per month)

Costs will vary depending on your own personal tastes, how much shopping you do, and where you shop!

Miscellaneous (£25 per month)

You should budget for occasional expenses such as haircuts, gifts and medical or dental costs.

Social Life – (£120 – £140 per month)

This is an important part of university life, so it’s important you budget for it.  How much you actually spend will depend on your interests and how much socialising you do.  If you want to make use ofthe University sports facilities, membership charges range from £5 to approximately £16 per month.

Travel costs (£35 per month)

Depending on where you live, you may need to budget for daily bus, Metro, trains or tube journeys.  If your home is some distance from the university, you will also have to consider the cost of travelling to and from University at the beginning and end of term.

Insurance (£23 per month)

In University accommodation, contents insurance is often included in your rent.  However, you may want to consider additional insurance if you are bringing any items of particular value with you.

Mobile phone (£30 per month)

The amount you spend will depend on how much talking, surfing and texting you do!

Television (£16 per month)

If you decide to have a television in your room, you are required to have a television licence.

Tips

As a student you’ll need to be aware of how much you’re spending and make sure you budget carefully.  The good news is that there are lots of things you can do to save money and make the most of what you’ve got.  Taking the time at the beginning of term to plan what you need to spend will save you hassle and worry as you go along.  Remember that your money has to last for the whole term, so make sure you don’t spend everything in Freshers’ Week so that you can enjoy yourself for the rest of the year as well!

Shop around

You’ll have access to cheaper student facilitites, including restaurants, bars and a shop.  There are also several charity shops and a market in most nearby city centres where you can find lots of essentials at bargain prices.

Make use of facilities on campus

Students have access toa wide range of facilities, which are provided either free of charge or for a very small cost.  These include excellent libraries, computers with Internet access, open access language facilities and indoor and outdoor sports facilities.  For cheap nights out, most Students’ Union have an entertainment programme that runs throughout the year.

Save money on travel

A lot of places are within walking distance.  If you live further away from the campus, or you just want to explore the surrounding area, you can get cheaper student travel tickets.

Don’t buy everything on your reading list

You’ll be able to use the University Library.  There are always bookshops that have a selection of second hand books, and don’t forget to have a look on the internet.

Make the most of student discounts

Many bars, restaurants, clubs, cinemas and shops offer discounts for students.  There may also be regular student nights throughout the city

Shop with your friends

Make the most of multiple purchase discounts such as BOGOF – buy one get one free and 3 for the price of 2 offers, this can help reduce your shopping bill, providing your friends have the same taste!

Look past the freebies

When you choose your student bank account, don’t be distracted by the sign-up incentives.  It’s more important to see which bank is offering the best overdraft facilities.  You’ll find branches of most of the main banks offering something, so make sure you choose the best for your needs.

Supplement your income with a part-time job

A University Job Shop / Centre can help students find part-time, temporary or vacation work in your area.  Not only will this boost your income, but you’ll also gain valuable skills and experience to add to your CV.  It’s usually recommended that you don’t work for more than 15 hours per week, so that it doesn’t interfere with your studies, but it does very much depend on your course.

Don’t panic – help is always at hand! Many universities have staff on site to provide help and guidance.

Concept Financial Planning Website

Parent Woes on University Debt

I have just received a question from a parent worried about their son’s university days, I thought I would share this with you.

‘My son has just received a place at University. When he finishes and comes back he will owe between £20,000 – £25,000. We feel that he will never be free from debt. What can we do or is there anything we could have done to help him?’

Firstly, thank you for your questions, and it is always good to see people that are having a look at the future and planning financially.

The debt that you son will amount will depend on a number of factors, including expenditure, the type of course and the university location.

Your calculations look like a good forecast – in terms of what you can do now – I would suggest a good budget planner, which I will email over, this is tailored to university students and gives a good idea on type of costs your son will entail whilst he is away. This will enable to carefully budget plan for all costs and hopefully keep an eye on debt.

Financial Support that is available
– Student Loans (for tuition fees and living costs)
– Maintenance Grants and Bursaries
– Part Time Work

Depending on the type of course and time constraints, part time employment is also a good way to earn additional income – the best type of employment is something that is related to the course or future career (but this is not always possible!) There is normally a job centre at most universities – one final thing on employment, don’t forget you may have to pay tax !

My top 5 ‘Need to Know’
1. Your budget will depend on where you live and study
2. Work out what type of student loan is suitable for your needs
3. Find out if you are egilible for other types of financial aid
4. Budget for tuition fees and rent when calculating your outgoings
5. Keep your eyes open for student discounts wherever you go

In relation to your second part of the question, is there anything I could of done? Hindsight is a wonderful thing, there are always things that we could do.

A regular savings plan could have helped towards your goals, the most important thing with any goal setting objective, is the risk you are willing to take, the time frame that you have available, and what you want to achieve. Always be careful of the tax position of any savings plan.

Just remember – Effective student financial planning means you will not have to graduate university with a huge amount of debt as well as a degree !

Good Luck !