At a glance

  • Tuition fees (where they apply) are just one example of the expenses that students face
  • Following a budget and knowing how much money is going out and coming in can help to identify potential savings and keep spending under control
  • Student households can benefit from Council Tax exemptions, although other household bills still need to be covered
  • From university services to national debt helplines, support is available for students struggling with money worries

At a glance

  • Tuition fees (where they apply) are just one example of the expenses that students face
  • Following a budget and knowing how much money is going out and coming in can help to identify potential savings and keep spending under control
  • Student households can benefit from Council Tax exemptions, although other household bills still need to be covered
  • From university services to national debt helplines, support is available for students struggling with money worries

At a glance

  • Tuition fees (where they apply) are just one example of the expenses that students face
  • Following a budget and knowing how much money is going out and coming in can help to identify potential savings and keep spending under control
  • Student households can benefit from Council Tax exemptions, although other household bills still need to be covered
  • From university services to national debt helplines, support is available for students struggling with money worries

The thought of embarking on student life can be both exciting and daunting. For all the opportunities that lie ahead, there are likely to be challenges, too – not least in terms of finances. The cost of life as a student can be particularly difficult for those who don’t receive financial help.

The average student spends £807 a month on living expenses, from rent and groceries to mobile phone and household bills, according to the most recent National Student Money Survey.1 That might seem overwhelming, but there are plenty of ways to make student finances more manageable.

Here we focus on some bigger money-saving steps that are specific to students. These can help to set you on the road to financial freedom, both during and after your student years.

How can I keep my day-to-day finances on track?

This is about creating and following a budget – perhaps the most simple and effective money- management discipline.

Start by jotting down your monthly income and where it comes from, then note all your monthly expenditure. That should leave you with an idea of what’s left over (if anything) and help you to identify where you could reduce or prioritise your spending.

Doing this each month (or even every week) will help you to keep tabs on your finances and prevent you from running into unexpected difficulties.

Are there apps to help with this?

Yes, and they are becoming increasingly sophisticated and user-friendly. There are some in particular that are aimed at helping those who are budgeting on a small, set income. Squirrel, for example, separates the money you have for bills, savings and spending into different accounts and shows what you have left over each month.

Others include Chip (which automatically saves what you have leftover in your bank account) and Mint and Money Dashboard, which allow you to view and manage all your finances in one place.

What do I need to look for in a student bank account?

High-street banks see students as the high earners of tomorrow, so the incentives can be generous. While they might seem similar, there are important differences, so it’s worth spending time comparing the benefits on offer and working out what would help you most.

For instance, while a £100 account opening fee sounds attractive, it doesn’t compare with the long-term value and savings from benefits such as free railcards or generous interest-free overdrafts.

There’s a good chance an overdraft will come in handy at some point, so a good place to start is by comparing the interest-free overdrafts available. Some 0% overdraft periods will be available for longer than others, and overdraft limits can vary. If you’re fortunate enough to be saving money, also compare the interest rates paid on balances.

Do students get discounts on household bills?

Council Tax and utilities can make a significant dent in your monthly finances. The good news is that in the case of Council tax there’s a full exemption available for households occupied exclusively by full-time students.

Households with a mix of students and non-students don’t get the exemption, but full-time students are ‘disregarded’, and the Council Tax is calculated as if they don’t live there. To find out more about Council Tax exemptions, contact your local authority or go to https://www.gov.uk/council-tax.

With water, gas and electricity, there are no discounts specifically for students. Tariffs can vary significantly, however, so it’s important to shop around using comparison websites to identify the most suitable and low-cost suppliers available.

The only utility cost exception is for students in Scotland. If a house is connected to the public water supply and doesn’t have a water meter, water bills are covered by Council Tax and so fall under that exemption if the household is occupied solely by students.

There’s no exemption from TV licences, but students who live away and go home for the summer can apply for a refund on the final three months of their licence.

What should I do if I’m struggling?

Few students get through their university lives without any money worries. If you do get into difficulties, tackle them as soon as you can. Burying your head in the sand will only make it worse.

There are several sources of help with living expenses, such as maintenance loans (which vary between parts of the UK and whether the student lives at home or away) and hardship funds, which are offered by many universities to students experiencing financial difficulties.

Low-income students may also qualify for fee waivers and bursaries, which again vary between different areas of the country.

Advice can be important, too. Most students now offer some form of financial counselling, while the local Citizens Advice bureau can help with debts, as can the StepChange debt charity and National Debtline.

If your money problems feel overwhelming and are causing distress, contact your university’s mental health services or call Samaritans (116 123).

The thought of embarking on student life can be both exciting and daunting. For all the opportunities that lie ahead, there are likely to be challenges, too – not least in terms of finances. The cost of life as a student can be particularly difficult for those who don’t receive financial help.

The average student spends £807 a month on living expenses, from rent and groceries to mobile phone and household bills, according to the most recent National Student Money Survey.1 That might seem overwhelming, but there are plenty of ways to make student finances more manageable.

Here we focus on some bigger money-saving steps that are specific to students. These can help to set you on the road to financial freedom, both during and after your student years.

How can I keep my day-to-day finances on track?

This is about creating and following a budget – perhaps the most simple and effective money- management discipline.

Start by jotting down your monthly income and where it comes from, then note all your monthly expenditure. That should leave you with an idea of what’s left over (if anything) and help you to identify where you could reduce or prioritise your spending.

Doing this each month (or even every week) will help you to keep tabs on your finances and prevent you from running into unexpected difficulties.

Are there apps to help with this?

Yes, and they are becoming increasingly sophisticated and user-friendly. There are some in particular that are aimed at helping those who are budgeting on a small, set income. Squirrel, for example, separates the money you have for bills, savings and spending into different accounts and shows what you have left over each month.

Others include Chip (which automatically saves what you have leftover in your bank account) and Mint and Money Dashboard, which allow you to view and manage all your finances in one place.

What do I need to look for in a student bank account?

High-street banks see students as the high earners of tomorrow, so the incentives can be generous. While they might seem similar, there are important differences, so it’s worth spending time comparing the benefits on offer and working out what would help you most.

For instance, while a £100 account opening fee sounds attractive, it doesn’t compare with the long-term value and savings from benefits such as free railcards or generous interest-free overdrafts.

There’s a good chance an overdraft will come in handy at some point, so a good place to start is by comparing the interest-free overdrafts available. Some 0% overdraft periods will be available for longer than others, and overdraft limits can vary. If you’re fortunate enough to be saving money, also compare the interest rates paid on balances.

Do students get discounts on household bills?

Council Tax and utilities can make a significant dent in your monthly finances. The good news is that in the case of Council tax there’s a full exemption available for households occupied exclusively by full-time students.

Households with a mix of students and non-students don’t get the exemption, but full-time students are ‘disregarded’, and the Council Tax is calculated as if they don’t live there. To find out more about Council Tax exemptions, contact your local authority or go to https://www.gov.uk/council-tax.

With water, gas and electricity, there are no discounts specifically for students. Tariffs can vary significantly, however, so it’s important to shop around using comparison websites to identify the most suitable and low-cost suppliers available.

The only utility cost exception is for students in Scotland. If a house is connected to the public water supply and doesn’t have a water meter, water bills are covered by Council Tax and so fall under that exemption if the household is occupied solely by students.

There’s no exemption from TV licences, but students who live away and go home for the summer can apply for a refund on the final three months of their licence.

What should I do if I’m struggling?

Few students get through their university lives without any money worries. If you do get into difficulties, tackle them as soon as you can. Burying your head in the sand will only make it worse.

There are several sources of help with living expenses, such as maintenance loans (which vary between parts of the UK and whether the student lives at home or away) and hardship funds, which are offered by many universities to students experiencing financial difficulties.

Low-income students may also qualify for fee waivers and bursaries, which again vary between different areas of the country.

Advice can be important, too. Most students now offer some form of financial counselling, while the local Citizens Advice bureau can help with debts, as can the StepChange debt charity and National Debtline.

If your money problems feel overwhelming and are causing distress, contact your university’s mental health services or call Samaritans (116 123).

The thought of embarking on student life can be both exciting and daunting. For all the opportunities that lie ahead, there are likely to be challenges, too – not least in terms of finances. The cost of life as a student can be particularly difficult for those who don’t receive financial help.

The average student spends £807 a month on living expenses, from rent and groceries to mobile phone and household bills, according to the most recent National Student Money Survey.1 That might seem overwhelming, but there are plenty of ways to make student finances more manageable.

Here we focus on some bigger money-saving steps that are specific to students. These can help to set you on the road to financial freedom, both during and after your student years.

How can I keep my day-to-day finances on track?

This is about creating and following a budget – perhaps the most simple and effective money- management discipline.

Start by jotting down your monthly income and where it comes from, then note all your monthly expenditure. That should leave you with an idea of what’s left over (if anything) and help you to identify where you could reduce or prioritise your spending.

Doing this each month (or even every week) will help you to keep tabs on your finances and prevent you from running into unexpected difficulties.

Are there apps to help with this?

Yes, and they are becoming increasingly sophisticated and user-friendly. There are some in particular that are aimed at helping those who are budgeting on a small, set income. Squirrel, for example, separates the money you have for bills, savings and spending into different accounts and shows what you have left over each month.

Others include Chip (which automatically saves what you have leftover in your bank account) and Mint and Money Dashboard, which allow you to view and manage all your finances in one place.

What do I need to look for in a student bank account?

High-street banks see students as the high earners of tomorrow, so the incentives can be generous. While they might seem similar, there are important differences, so it’s worth spending time comparing the benefits on offer and working out what would help you most.

For instance, while a £100 account opening fee sounds attractive, it doesn’t compare with the long-term value and savings from benefits such as free railcards or generous interest-free overdrafts.

There’s a good chance an overdraft will come in handy at some point, so a good place to start is by comparing the interest-free overdrafts available. Some 0% overdraft periods will be available for longer than others, and overdraft limits can vary. If you’re fortunate enough to be saving money, also compare the interest rates paid on balances.

Do students get discounts on household bills?

Council Tax and utilities can make a significant dent in your monthly finances. The good news is that in the case of Council tax there’s a full exemption available for households occupied exclusively by full-time students.

Households with a mix of students and non-students don’t get the exemption, but full-time students are ‘disregarded’, and the Council Tax is calculated as if they don’t live there. To find out more about Council Tax exemptions, contact your local authority or go to https://www.gov.uk/council-tax.

With water, gas and electricity, there are no discounts specifically for students. Tariffs can vary significantly, however, so it’s important to shop around using comparison websites to identify the most suitable and low-cost suppliers available.

The only utility cost exception is for students in Scotland. If a house is connected to the public water supply and doesn’t have a water meter, water bills are covered by Council Tax and so fall under that exemption if the household is occupied solely by students.

There’s no exemption from TV licences, but students who live away and go home for the summer can apply for a refund on the final three months of their licence.

What should I do if I’m struggling?

Few students get through their university lives without any money worries. If you do get into difficulties, tackle them as soon as you can. Burying your head in the sand will only make it worse.

There are several sources of help with living expenses, such as maintenance loans (which vary between parts of the UK and whether the student lives at home or away) and hardship funds, which are offered by many universities to students experiencing financial difficulties.

Low-income students may also qualify for fee waivers and bursaries, which again vary between different areas of the country.

Advice can be important, too. Most students now offer some form of financial counselling, while the local Citizens Advice bureau can help with debts, as can the StepChange debt charity and National Debtline.

If your money problems feel overwhelming and are causing distress, contact your university’s mental health services or call Samaritans (116 123).

References

1. Student Money Survey 2019, Save the Student, October 2019

References

1. Student Money Survey 2019, Save the Student, October 2019

References

1. Student Money Survey 2019, Save the Student, October 2019

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