How to Survive on a Student Budget

Sarah Jones (Student Money Expert)

Written by Sarah Jones (Student Money Expert) on November 10, 2018

Updated January 14, 2021


Whilst many would have you believe that students survive happily on a nutritious diet of beans on toast and £1 pints of cider from the Student Union and entertain themselves with ‘free’ pursuits such as watching daytime television and stealing traffic cones, chances are you’ll need to fork out for more than these dubious purchases and pursuits whilst studying for three years at University.

How much will I spend each term?

Student life will see you stumping up for some, or all, of the following:

Rent/accommodation costs

On average, students can spend up to £100 a week on rent, whether they are in halls of residence or privately owned properties. Rent rates are at their highest in London and the South East, whilst the cheapest accommodation can be found in Crewe, Middlesbrough, Stoke, Wolverhampton and Bradford.

Tuition fees

Costs depend on the Institution but standard tuition fees can see you paying out from £7,000 to £9,000 a year to attend your course. However, you won’t have to worry about this until you finish university.


It makes sense to insure your personal belongings in case of theft and many insurance companies offer policies specifically tailored for students. Basic contents insurance starts at around £15 a month.


Whether you have to cover the cost of running a car, need to take the bus to and from campus twice a day or use the train to travel home at the weekends, you’ll need to bear these costs in mind each month. Things like a Young Person’s Railcard can help cut these costs though.


If you are living in halls of residence or purpose built student homes, the chances are your water, electricity, gas and telephone bills are already included in the price of your rent. If you are living in a private, rented property, however, these bills will be your responsibility. If you are sharing with a number of housemates, it’s a good idea to each take charge of the payment of a particular bill – that way it is much easier to keep track of your finances and you will only be paying out between £30 – £50 each.


Nobody wants you to go hungry so don’t forget to include enough cash in your budget for one of life’s little essentials! A typical student at the University of York, for example, spends around £40 – £50 a week on food and toiletries.

Books and equipment

You won’t be able to get by on your course without them, but consider sharing text books with course mates and buying second hand to lower the costs. Also remember that you can recoup some of your money by selling your old books once you have finished with them. Try advertising them on websites like Amazon and eBay or on the notice boards outside your lectures.

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