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 across the UK:
Energy grant for all households
Every household in the UK will receive an energy bill discount of £400 this October as part of a package of new measures to tackle soaring prices. Further support has also been announced for low-income households.
The discount will be applied automatically to your monthly household electricity bill for 6 months starting in October 2022 for those in England, Scotland and Wales. More information is given in the government’s Energy Support Scheme guidance, including details of how the discount will apply for those who rented accommodation.
Households in Northern Ireland will receive £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.
Measures to limit the rise in energy bills have been announced and will be in place until April 2023. The plan applies to all households in England, Scotland and Wales. The same level of support will be made available in Northern Ireland.
A typical household’s annual energy bill is expected to rise to £2,500 a year from 1 October (from £1,971). This is not a limit on how much you will pay - your bill depends on how much energy you use.
The government has announced a financial package to help students with living costs. This will include:
- 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 has announced a new £2 cap on single bus journeys from January to March 2023.
See help for households for further information.
In Scotland, evictions have been banned during winter and a rent freeze has been put in place for public and private rented properties as part of efforts to help people struggling with rising bills.
Rail fares are to be frozen until at least March 2023.
There has been a rise in the child payment to £25 a week.
See cost of living support for further information.
See the support available for cost of living in Wales.
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 form of support offered will differ across providers - please contact your university directly for more details.
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 universities 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.
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.