Cost of living
The cost of living is rising which is causing a lot of uncertainty. This makes planning finances more difficult.
Living costs such as food, energy (electricity and gas), rent and transport costs may go up over the year which means having a planned budget will help you adjust and manage your finances.
You can do some research which will help you to understand how much money you are likely to need for the academic year.
There are lots of tools to support you to research and budget, see below for support.
Cost of living support
The government has announced financial help, see below for details.
Between April and June 2023, average standing charges for customers on default tariffs will remain capped in line with the levels set by Ofgem.
The price cap will remain at 50.4p per day for electricity and 27.7p per day for gas, excluding VAT, for a typical dual fuel customer paying by direct debit.
In Northern Ireland, the Energy Price Guarantee will be extended at the same level until the end of June 2023, however there are some differences because of the way the electricity and gas markets operate in Northern Ireland.
See the Energy Price Guarantee for further details.
Energy grant for all households
Every household in the UK was given an energy bill discount of £400 as part of the Energy Bills Support Scheme for those in England, Scotland and Wales. The discount was applied automatically to monthly household electricity bills for 6 months from October 2022. The cost of living guidance also provides details of the further support announced for low-income households.
Households in Northern Ireland received £600 UK government support for energy bills. The amount is made up of £400 through the Energy Bills Support Scheme Northern Ireland (EBSS NI) and the £200 Alternative Fuel Payment (AFP). For further details and information on how you will receive the payment, see the energy support guidance for Northern Ireland.
The government announced a financial package to help students with living costs. This includes:
- Extra hardship funding to complement the help universities are providing through their own bursary, scholarship and hardship support schemes.
- Tuition fee loans are to be capped at the current level of £9,250 for the next two years (academic years 2023-24 and 2024-25)
- Loans and grants to support undergraduate and postgraduate students with living and other costs will be increased by 2.8% for the 2023/24 academic year.
Read the full statement here. Please note that the additional hardship funding will be distributed by universities, and that the form of support will differ across providers – please contact your university for more information.
The government announced a £2 cap on single bus journeys in many areas of England. This cap has been extended to 30 June 2023. See the Gov.uk official list of participating bus companies..
In Scotland, there is a temporary pause on the enforcement of evictions and a temporary cap on rent increases as part of efforts to help people struggling with rising bills. Both are expected to stay in place until at least 30 September 2023.
Rail fare rises are currently frozen.
There has been a rise in the child payment to £25 a week.
See cost of living support for further information on the help available in Scotland.
Maintenance loans and grants for students in Wales will rise by 9.4% from September 2023, with support for full-time students increasing from £10,710 to £11,720 on average.
The Welsh government have announced an additional £2.3 million of funding for student mental health. The funding will be distributed by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) to universities to extend their money advice services and hardship funds for their students and for those moving into higher education. See the full statement here.
The support offered will differ across providers - please contact your university directly for more details.
See further information on the support available for cost of living in Wales.
See the support available for the cost of living in Northern Ireland.
Researching living costs at university or college
When you are researching universities and colleges, you can look at the cost of living in the town or city which will help you to prepare and understand how much things will cost as a student.
If you plan to move away to study, look at the accommodation options and how much they cost as this is likely to be the biggest living expense. Check how much the different accommodation options are, including to stay in student halls and private rental costs in the local area.
Accommodation for student halls will vary at each university: you could have a shared or private bathroom, a single or double bed, a cleaning service, catered (which includes meals) or non-catered. There are usually a lot of different options with some cheaper and more expensive choices. The accommodation office at the university and university website will be able to provide information on the options available. The course pages on Discover Uni include a link to this information in the ‘Information on the uni website’ section.
See our Preparing for uni pages for further information on accommodation options.
If you need to commute to your course, you can research the travel costs such as trains, buses and/or petrol costs.
How much money will I need?
The cost of living is changing frequently. When researching the living costs in a specific location, try to find information which is as up to date as possible.
You can check university or college websites for estimated costs or talk to current students in the location of your choice to find out how much they spend each month. You can also see Save the Students' guide to Student living costs in the UK 2023, although it is important to note that this is a guide and may not reflect the current costs at each university or college.
Once you have an idea about how much the accommodation may be, you can estimate how much you will need for:
- Energy bills (gas and electric if it is separate from your accommodation costs)
- Social activities (societies, gym membership, trips, sports teams, going out)
- Personal expenses (haircuts, clothes, dental costs, laundry)
- Costs related to study – (books, trips, societies, course materials)
- Mobile phone
- TV and internet
- Other expenses
Some accommodation may have bills included (such as gas and electricity) within the price of the accommodation. This way you will know how much money you will have left after you have paid for your accommodation. If your energy bills are separate to the accommodation costs, you can try to estimate roughly how much you will need for gas and electricity by speaking to current students and checking the university's website on the cost of living, or checking online resources such as the Money Saving Expert tool which will help you to estimate energy costs.
Managing money while at university or college
You can research how much money you could get for living costs while at university through a maintenance loan.
The amount of money you receive depends on factors such as if you are studying while living with parents or carers, or if you study away from home. You can also receive additional funds if you will be studying in London to support the additional expenses.
Students in England can use the government’s student finance calculator and guide ‘Understanding living costs while studying and university or college’ to see how much money you are likely to receive in maintenance loans, or find out further information if you are based in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Once you know how much you are likely to receive and have estimated your outgoings, you will have a better idea of how much money you will need as a student and how much money you will need to cover any remaining costs.
See our How will I pay for it? page for further information on the maintenance loan.
Tools to help you budget
There are lots of tools which you can use to help you manage your money while at university. See the below resources for support:
- Save the Student for guidance on how to make a budget while at university, to find budgeting tools and for tips on how to make your money stretch further.
- Money Saving Expert for student money tips.
- Which? – for university and student finance tips.
Your university or college may give you extra money if you’re experiencing financial hardship. See the latest advice for students in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The amount you can receive is decided by your university or college and is paid in a lump sum or instalments. You will need to contact the student services department at your university or college who will provide further information and let you know if you qualify.
Financial struggles can cause worry and anxiety which can impact on your mental health. If you need support while at university, there is support available on Student Space where you can find help with managing worry about money , what to do if you have money problems and you can find support through text, webchat, phone and email.
See our information about student finance and our guide to preparing to start uni here: