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How much should you save for university?

How much should you save for university?

University tuition fees are just one of the expenses you’ll have when you start university. From buying food each week to paying your bills, the costs of higher education quickly add up. So, how much should you save for university before you get there? What do you actually need money for and how do you estimate how much it’ll all cost?

Don’t worry – it’s less complicated than it sounds. Here’s some guidance on how much you should save for university, from calculating living costs to buying textbooks.  

The cost of higher education  

It’s estimated that studying in the UK costs around £12,200 per year. The cost varies depending on:

  • Whether you can live at home 
  • Whether you take out a student loan
  • Whether you need to pay your own university tuition fees or not – university tuition fees can be close to £10,000 depending on where you study
  • Whereabouts in the UK you’re studying 

In other words, lots of factors influence how much you should save for university, but here’s a rundown of the most common expenses you’ll have.


How much should you save for university accommodation if you’re staying in halls or renting a student flat? The answer varies considerably depending on:

  • Where you’re studying in the UK
  • Whether you’re renting a flat or living in halls 

For example, the average student in Glasgow might need around £80 per week for student hall accommodation, whereas a student in London could need closer to £200 per week for the same facilities. 

Some students choose to live at home if they can because it saves them money on accommodation, especially if they must also pay their own university tuition fees.


If you’re living in student halls, utilities such as gas, water, and electricity are usually included in your rate. However, if you’re paying for these separately, you’ll need:

  • Water: around £35 per month
  • Gas & electricity: around £100 per month (varies depending on where you stay)

This doesn’t include the cost of emergency repairs or maintenance, but it’s a good starting point. 


How much should you save for university travel costs? Students who can’t walk or cycle to uni may want to consider a 16-25 or 26-30 travel card which costs around £30 a month.

Buying a travel card could save you money in the long run. 

Monthly bills and fees

While you won’t have to pay university tuition fees every month, you’ll still have other bills to pay. Monthly bills could include:

  • Broadband and mobile: around £30 per month   
  • Bank fees and charges: around £30 per month 
  • Memberships, such as gym memberships: around £20 per month

If you’re a hall resident, or everyone in your flat is a full-time student, you won’t pay council tax. 

Textbooks and materials

How much should you save for university textbooks and study tools? It depends on what course you’re on, but students typically need around £30 per month to buy core textbooks, stationery, and other materials. You can always cut your spending by borrowing books from the library, but you’ll still need money for basics like notebooks, pens, and folders. 

Food and essentials

Don’t forget the cost of a weekly trip to the supermarket!

Between the cost of the weekly food shop and personal care items, such as toothpaste and deodorant, you will need around £90 per month. 

Social costs

There’s more to higher education than worrying about university tuition fees and studying. It’s about having fun, too. Students spend around £12-£15 per week on socialising, whether it’s going out to the pub or hitting the student union.

If you want to make the most of your university experience, start thinking about how you’ll budget for a social life.  


Factor in non-essentials like snacks, takeaways, alcohol, cosmetics, music, and a coffee in the morning before class. Combined, these non-essentials could cost around £100-£150 per month.

You can, however, save money by only buying what you need.  

Apply for a loan for living costs and university tuition fees

Students attending university for the first time can often apply for a student loan to help with both their living costs and their university tuition fees. The loan amount you’re entitled to varies depending on where you’re studying and if you’re living alone or with your parents.

Just remember, though, that a student loan is still a loan, and you’ll need to pay it back. 

Calculate your university tuition fees and costs in advance

A budget calculator might help you estimate:

  • The total cost of your university experience
  • How much help you can apply for towards your university tuition fees and living costs
  • Where you can save money 

Sure, it can be hard to stay on top of your finances at university, especially when you factor in the cost of university tuition fees. However, with some forward planning, you can make the most of your university experience. 

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