Preparing to go to University marks an exciting new chapter in your life, however, it’s important to think about how you’re going to pay for it. Particularly looking at saving for university.
From tuition costs to accommodation to books and general living expenses. Further education brings with it a whole world of new opportunities and yet it has become increasingly expensive.
Here Cashlady explores the costs associated with going to University. As well as 10 essential methods for saving while studying.
The cost of higher education and saving for university
Recent graduates who paid tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year will have left University with an average £44,000 of debt.
The amount of debt you accumulate while studying depends on how you pay your tuition fees. And, whether you receive any maintenance grants, loans, family assistance or bursaries.
It will also be affected by how you manage your money while you’re there.
Studying in England
If you live in England then you can expect to pay University tuition fees of up to £9,250 a year. These can be repaid after you have graduated and are earning over a certain salary, currently £21,000.
Studying in Scotland
If you are from Scotland and chose to study there, then you aren’t required to pay tuition fees.
Studying in Wales
Students that come from Wales and chose to study there can apply for a fee grant, which is non-repayable, to cover up to £4,296 of your tuition fees. The rest can be covered with a loan, repayable after you have graduated and earning over a certain threshold.
Studying in Northern Ireland
Studying in Northern Ireland costs a maximum of £3,925 a year. It can also be paid by a loan, repayable after you have graduated and you are earning over a certain threshold.
Course length and funding
In the UK, an undergraduate degree typically lasts three or four years. Although certain degrees like law, medicine and veterinary science can last for up to six years.
There are various sources of funding available, such as bursaries, for many courses. Including the more expensive ones because they last longer.
Funding can come directly from your University, or from the NHS if you’re studying a medical discipline. These are intended to help with tuition fees, living costs or both.
You should contact your University or search online for your course for further information on what’s available to you.
Accommodation and living expenses
Apart from your tuition fees, your highest expenditure will most likely be your accommodation. Often followed by living expenses.
You may be eligible for a maintenance loan, which is paid to you during the academic year to assist with livings costs and would be repayable.
Depending on your household income, you could also be offered a grant, which wouldn’t need to be repaid.
Find out more about the finance options available to you depending on where you live in the UK:
- England – Student Finance England
- Scotland – Scotland Student Awards Agency
- Wales – Student Finance Wales
- Northern Ireland –Student Finance NI
How much you’ll pay for accommodation will depend on the city you chose and the type of accommodation you go for, such as student halls or a shared flat.
As a general guide, depending on the standard of housing you choose, each month you can expect to pay:
- £380 – £750 if you live in Edinburgh
- £420 -£1,400 if you live in London
- £355 – £720 if you live in Cardiff
- £356 -£428 if you live in Belfast
Other expenses that you will need to factor in are utility bills, TV licence, food, travel, books and socialising.
Saving for University
Your family might help cover your costs, maybe you’ve saved some money yourself, or perhaps you’re eligible for a grant or bursary.
Whatever your situation, this is likely to be your first experience of living away from home and taking care of food and bills yourself.
Below we explore what you can do to help save and make your money go further when studying.
1. Make a budget
Your first few weeks at University are going to be a whirlwind of new experiences.
With your first maintenance payment in the bank and the excitement of leaving home, it can be tempting to go a little wild. For this reason, it’s a good idea to make a budget first.
Include all your incoming money for each month, or term, depending on how frequently you receive payments.
Include wages, loans, grants, savings that you plan to use and any other financial assistance.
List the regular outgoings that you expect. These could include rent, utility bills, mobile phone bill, gym membership, food, books and travel.
Once you have calculated the totals for each month, take away the outgoings from the incomings.
This will give you a realistic idea of what money you have left over to spend on socialising (such as Fresher’s Week). You can continue to do this each month or term and use it for the rest of the year.
Remember to include one off outgoings like Christmas, weekends away or big purchases, such as a laptop.
2. Monitor and track your spending
A budget is useful but it’s worthless unless you put it into practice.
There are lots of new apps and banking services that allow you to track your spending. Also, they let you put it into categories such as ‘food,’ ‘socialising,’ and ‘clothes.’
What if you find you’re not left with as much money as you would like or need, at the end of each month or term? Then it’s useful to analyse where you were overspending so that you can put it right.
You can also transfer your spending money into a different bank account from your essentials. Or you could try a card like Monzo, which acts like a current account and carefully tracks your spending in an app on your phone.
3. Enjoy student discounts
One of the biggest perks of being a student is the discounts.
From food shopping to the cinema and even some supermarkets, ensure that you don’t miss out on savings and don’t be afraid to ask in store if you aren’t sure.
See Unidays to get started.
4. Get into the habit of saving
Set up a savings account, add a standing order from your current account, even for a small amount each month and then forget all about it.
You’ll be amazed at the progress that you make over the years plus it’s useful to have a safety net.
Saving is an excellent habit to get into early, your thirty-year-old self will thank you.
5. Don’t pay council tax
If you rent a room or live in a flat share, then so long as you are all full-time students, you won’t be liable to pay council tax.
If you live in England and Wales then apply here for an exemption.
6. Don’t pay for your TV licence over the summer
What if you’ve paid for your TV license in advance but are leaving for the summer? Then you can apply for a refund for the three months that you’re not there, which adds up to around £36.
See here to apply for yours.
7. Use your overdraft wisely
A large overdraft on your student bank account can be too much of a temptation for some. You might find yourself thinking about using it for a big summer holiday or a new wardrobe.
Unless you expect having enough money to clear it while you’re still studying, your overdraft will follow you past graduation. And it will stay with you as you embark on your first ‘proper job,’ when you will begin to be charged interest on it.
Only use your overdraft if you really need it and aim to clear it every month or term.
8. Earn extra money
Studying is hard work and the further that you progress with your course, the more time you will need to devote to it.
There are lots of part-time jobs that allow you to work shifts and that are flexible, with students in mind.
You could try something different from the usual restaurants, supermarkets and call centres. Speak to local businesses such as bars, clubs and gyms about handing out flyers.
If you have writing or design skills then you could offer your services on a freelancing website, such as People per Hour.
9. Learn to cook
This is the ideal time to learn to cook and perfect a signature dish or two.
You’ll find that making big batches for the freezer, such as chilli con carne, curry and stews is an excellent way to eat healthily and save money.
10. Make the most of your summers
University summer holidays are long. With some hard work and determination, it’s possible to earn enough to cover many of your term time costs. This will alleviate a significant amount of your student debt.
It doesn’t need to be boring, you could try fruit picking, house sitting, helping on a French Vineyard or looking after children. Have a look online and see where it takes you.
Final thoughts on saving for university
University is the perfect time to get out of your comfort zone and take responsibility for your adult life. As well as expanding your academic horizons, you can learn some valuable life skills that will follow you on into adulthood. Saving money and learning to live on a budget is one of biggest lessons you can learn, ensuring you lead a comfortable and successful life.