Eight tips if you're worried about money at university

Here are our top tips to help ease your worries about money at university or college.

You’ve just started uni and you get an email from your Student Union about Freshers’ Week — what to expect, where to go on your first day, plus there’s an organised pub night with your halls.

You’re excited, but the excitement quickly fades when you remember you’ve got to make your student loan last until the end of term. It’s completely normal to be worried about finances when starting uni or college. But knowing how to manage your money during term time can help ease your worries.

Here, we’ll share some tips if you’re worried about money, from looking for part-time jobs to additional funding support to where to find student discounts. 

1. Create a budget 

Creating a budget based on what money going in vs money you have going out can help you feel more confident starting uni or college. Having a budget doesn’t mean your money worries will all be sorted, but it means you have a plan so that you always know where your money is going rather than wondering where it went.

2. Look into financial assistance

Most institutions offer financial assistance to students facing financial difficulties. This support may come in the form of bursaries, scholarships, or hardship funds. 
Scholarships do not require repayment, making them an invaluable resource for students seeking to alleviate the cost of their education. Bursaries, on the other hand, are typically need-based awards that aim to support students facing financial hardship. They may cover tuition fees, living expenses, or specific educational costs. To find financial assistance, you can:

  • Check your university's website 
  • Get in touch with the student services or financial aid office 
  • Check out The Scholarship Hub to find scholarships or bursaries. 

3. Take advantage of student discounts

There are tons of student discounts available in the UK. From travel and food to entertainment and shopping, student discounts can help you save money on everyday purchases. You can check out our student discounts, Lots of other places offer discounts simply by showing your Student ID, so always ask.  

4. Part-time work opportunities

Getting a part-time job is a great way to supplement your income while at uni or college. Your uni will generally have job portals or career services that list part-time opportunities on and off-campus which you can have a look at.

You can also freelance while studying. Whether you’ve got writing, coding, digital skills, or anything else that’s in demand, you can monetise your talent. You might want to look at sites like Fiverr or Upwork.

While working part-time can provide financial relief, it's also important to maintain a balance between work and study to avoid burnout. Most students find between 10-20 hours of work a week is doable while studying. Also, be sure to speak with your employer about your situation. They are generally flexible around student schedules, especially during exam season.

If you’re an international student on a visa, check your requirements before committing to a job as you may have limitations on the amount of hours you can work.

5. Find ways to save on transport

If you’re commuting to campus, look for student travel cards or discounted passes. There’s a Student Oyster Card in London, which can help you save 30%. And there’s the 16-25 Railcard. Plus, walking and biking are free ways to get around your city. Some local towns and cities have their own student discounts, so make sure to look it up.

6. Save on accommodation

According to Blackbullion, 70% of students are worried about not being able to afford rented accommodation. If you’re debating student halls vs private renting, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons. Some student halls are all-inclusive, which helps you save in other areas such as meals and heating. However, living off-campus in shared housing is also a good option.

Sharing rent and utility bills can significantly reduce overall costs, and it also helps you meet other students. Living a bit further away from campus might be more affordable but be sure to check how much travel will cost as it can add up.

You can use UCAS' accommodation platform to look at your options.

7. Take advantage of uni resources

Most campuses have free or discounted resources available to students. For example, gyms, recreational facilities, and student social events. Freshers’ week is a great chance to see what your uni or college has to offer. Sign up for your Student Union emails to keep in the know about what’s happening on campus. 

8. Avoid unnecessary spending

While it might be tempting to buy that round at the pub or get a new pair of Nike shoes, these non-essential items can really hurt your budget. The point of mapping out your expenses at the start of term is to help you assess how much you have to spend on ‘fun items’. Before making a purchase, ask yourself if:

  • you have the budget for it
  • it's something you truly need
  • there are more cost-effective alternatives available. 

Financial worries can be daunting, but with careful planning and taking advantage of on-campus resources, you can take some of that weight off your shoulders.