One of the biggest worries people have when coming to university is about whether they can afford it. However, most people are able to access money from the government to help out with the costs of being a student.
If you currently live in England, you can access the Student Finance Calculator, which will give you an indicator of how much money you might receive when you go to university.
Check out the links below if you don’t currently live in England:
- Student Finance Wales
- Student Awards Agency Scotland
- Student Finance Ireland
- Student Finance aid if you’re living in the EU
So, what are the big costs of going to university?
The largest for me was and is accommodation. This took up a large bulk of the money I received from student finance, particularly as, during my first year, I had picked an ensuite room to live in. This was important to me in my first year, as I didn’t really know anyone I’d be living with, and I was concerned about cleaning the bathroom myself. However, in halls, a cleaner cleans shared bathrooms and the communal areas every week day, whereas I had to clean my bathroom! This year, I’m living in a house with a shared bathroom, and it really isn’t as bad as I had first imagined when applying for accommodation – even though we have to clean the bathroom.
You might be commuting instead of living on or around campus, but it’s just as important to research the different ways of getting to university. It might be that the bus is cheaper, but takes longer, so you have to consider what works for you in the long run. Is that extra half an hour in bed more important than being able to pay for your weekly coffee?
The next most important thing on my list of costs is food. I’ve known people not blink and spend £60 on a weekly shop, then wonder how they’re going to afford to eat for the rest of the term. It is so, so important to budget. The way that I do it is to divide how much I have (once I’ve taken out the cost of accommodation) to spend by how many weeks there are in that semester (eg £140 in a 7 week semester would be £20 a week).
I then shop around. In Ormskirk, there is an Aldi, an Iceland, and a Morrison’s, but other big shops will deliver too. Tesco currently have the ‘Click and Collect’ option, where they bring deliveries to campus on a specific day of the week for students to pick up. Personally, I prefer Aldi, as it is cheaper, but if I’m particularly busy with assignments that week and I know I can’t get to the shops, I might do a big order online that will keep me going for a few weeks.
It’s easy to forget to eat healthily when you’re a student too, especially if you don’t like cooking, or if you don’t go shopping very often. At the moment, there’s a fruit and veg store on a Wednesday that is run in the hub, which has really good prices. So, even if you’ve decided to go another week without doing a shop and don’t have anything fresh, you can always pick something up once a week in the hub.
The next big cost most students incur is nights out. Now, I don’t really spend a lot on nights out, but my friends and I do enjoy takeaway every now and again. It’s important to include these in your budget when you’re planning how much you can spend a week too. If that means deciding if you’d rather go out every night of the week and spend only £5 a night, or once a week and spend £35, it has to be done.
Remember, budgeting is your best friend.