With tuition fees now averaging £8,500 a year, university is undoubtedly more expensive than ever. But there’s a long list of things that students need to pay for besides tuition, which won’t be covered by your loan…
These costs include things like course books, food and drink, nights out, toiletries, transport, and any number of other costs like photocopying or printing work.
It can be daunting facing all these costs for the first time so we asked current students what they wish they’d known before going to university. And with their help, we’ve set out five top tips to help you plan your budget:
1. Do your homework on costs and budget early.
A University of Brighton second year History student told us:
‘I wish I’d budgeted earlier. When you do your first food shop you’ll inevitably buy too much food, but after a couple of weeks you get used to it. What I find useful is loosely planning my meals for the week so I don’t end up buying food I won’t eat (like junk food).’
2. Ask your university about course costs upfront:
A first year student from King’s College London, studying Biological sciences told us:
‘I wish we were given more information about what books to have in order to have purchased them at a cheaper price beforehand, i.e. from previous students.’
3. Consider getting a part time job:
A third year English literature student studying at the University of Lincoln said:
‘It’s not as easy as you might think, managing your money. I wish I’d got a part-time job straight away instead of waiting until third year. The relief would have been immense! It’s worth pooling resources with house/flat mates and cooking together to keep costs down, and limiting yourself to a maximum of one takeaway a week. It’s a slippery slope!’
4. Plan ahead for your second year:
This First Year Accounting student at University of Kent said:
‘I wish I had known about the cost of sorting accommodation for the second year – this was the biggest cost. I wish that there was an online money managing application that clearly shows how much should be allocated per week as many students aren’t aware of what food and other essentials, for example laundry, cost.’
5. Look around for discounts and bursaries:
And a University of Leeds first year Law student told us:
‘I wish I had taken more advantage of the markets that Leeds has to offer. I’ll admit that I was a little snobby about shopping at a market but the food I’ve had from there (fruit and veg, fish and meat) has been cheaper and more delicious than any of the store bought I’ve had.’
Do you have any tips for managing your finances when you were a student? Are you currently at university or have you recently graduated and finding it difficult to stay on top of your finances?