The real cost of living as a student

The cost of student living is a frequent source of controversy in the UK, and with tuition fees rising to eye-watering levels it can be hard to see how it’s possible for people to study without it costing a small fortune. So how much does it really cost to live as a student? We’ve put together a guide to give those of you planning to go to university some help with budgeting.

Average course costs

The average costs of studying in full-time higher education are the same across England and are estimated to be at least £22,200 per year, with places such as London likely to be more expensive.

These costs may be different depending on how much your university charges, and where you live. Take a look at The Complete University Guide for information on different unis.



Estimating costs of studying and living takes account of your potential income from grants and loans. What you are entitled to will differ, depending on your country and the year you’re starting your course.

Below we have estimates for first time, full-time students. The figures show the maximum amounts that are available and an indication of what the average student is entitled to – an average student according to the Office for National Statistic is someone with an average household income and taking a 39-week course.

Potential incomes from loans and funding can go up to as much as £20,879 in London and £18,450 for the rest of England, and the average student will receive £14,370. Here’s how these figures have been reached:


  • A tuition fee loan up to £9000 depending on the cost of your course – £8354 for an ‘average’ student.


  • A maintenance grant up to £3250 depending on your household income – £934 for our ‘average’ student.


  • For loans to help with living costs away from home, depending on certain factors, this could be up to £5500 whereas our ‘average’ student gets £4335.


When at university, you can make the cost of living more affordable by taking advantage of student discounts. For example, an NUS Extra Card can be purchased for a small fee and will offer you discounts on shopping, drinks, food and much more.

Starting now until 14th October, Halfords Autocentre are offering to cover the cost of your MOT for the year if you buy anything in store. You can then redeem your free MOT up until 31st Oct 2019, giving you plenty of time to get your car checked. .



The majority of students live in university halls of residence in their first year, before moving to rented or private accommodation in following years. It’s estimated that accommodation expenses are £8073 per academic year, and there are a handful of things to factor in when it comes to the average living costs within the UK:


  • A weekly food shop will likely cost you about £30, and a meal out is about £12.


  • Depending on your course, you’ll can spend at least £30 a month on books and other course materials.


  • Your mobile phone bill is likely to be at least £20 a month.


  • Gym membership costs roughly £30 a month, but look for student discounts.


  • A typical night out can cost about £30 in total.


  • If you want to watch TV in your room, you’ll need a TV licence which is roughly £150.50 a year.


  • Depending on your spending habits, you might spend £35-50 on clothing each month.


International students

If you’re an international student wanting to study within the UK, take a look at the International student calculator to work out how you can manage your money and build a budget to live and study in the UK. It’s very important to ensure you have the funds before leaving home.

All content courtesy of Ella Mason. 

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Molly Hare

Molly Hare // Ex Magazine Editor // PR and Journalism student at Leeds Beckett // Book worm, cocktail connoisseur, gherkin fanatic //

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