Student finance as an undergraduate student in the UK is usually determined by the combined annual household income of the parents for students under 25.
This in turn affects the amount of maintenance loan (living money) received per year.
For most students, this combined with income from family and a part-time job is usually enough for rent and feeding.
However, most students overestimate the value of student finance and the necessity of part-time work or a university budget.
Here are 5 reasons why your student finance won’t be enough to live on while at university
Accommodation at university is getting higher
University accommodation changes depending on your accommodation situation, and university location.
Generally, first-year students live in university-provided accommodation during the first few semesters which is the most expensive type of accommodation you are likely to encounter (unless you decide to rent/live on your own).
In the UK this can range anywhere from £120 to £220 a week, all bills included.
The added benefit being students don’t have to pay an extra £100 in council tax payments.
Smart university students who want to make the most out of their loans will consider the cost of accommodation in different cities before making the decision to study at a given university.
Cities like Leeds and Bradford typically have lower accommodation fees when compared to places like London and oxford.
All these things must be considered.
Rising prices of food and groceries
While it may look like student finance payouts are increasing in line with inflation rates, the cost of goods looks to be hitting all-time highs – beyond the incremental rises in student finance payments.
This is likely due to the unprecedented situations in recent years that have led to a cost of living crisis in 2022/23 – with little indication of any improvements in 2024.
A weekly shop as a student that would normally cost £20 in 2018/19 would now cost upwards of £50/60 today.
The student finance payments have certainly NOT doubled in that time to reflect this.
This is why a budget for meal plans is important.
Shopping at different stores is also important if you are to get the best deals on any given item – visit a new shop every few months and you may be surprised at the deals you uncover!
Getting carried away with having a social life
Having a social life at university is extremely important – if there is any place you shouldn’t feel bad for enjoying your social life, it’s at university!
However, most students underestimate the costs associated with going out weekly especially if it involved drinking expensive cocktails, going on wild trips, or paying for fun activities.
This is potentially where most students lose a huge amount of their annual budget and can put them in a dangerous position of not having enough money until their next payment.
This is especially bad over the summer holidays when you will undoubtedly run out of money!
You’ll need a summer job before your next top-up in the following semester (if your luck hasn’t run out as a final-year student).
The best remedy for this is to enjoy a moderate social life – A night in with a good movie and some of your best friends can make the best memories that last a lifetime.
Dating at university is an expensive game
Dating at university is an expensive and dangerous game – you are likely to lose a significant amount of time and money in the name of love, only for the relationship to meet an untimely end a few months later!
On a serious note, if you don’t have a job, especially as a man who typically is required to pay for first dates, you will struggle to keep a relationship alive with your student finance alone.
You also run the risk of putting yourself in financial issues for a relationship built on the exchange of material items.
Be smart with your money, and be careful not to spend beyond your means with the hopes of impressing your boyfriend/girlfriend.
At university, relationships can actually be a good test of compatibility,
..since you are more likely to bond over the fact that your bank accounts are in overdraft, than try to extort each other for financial benefit.
But always remember – There are simple things you can do that don’t require spending £100s on valentines day meals etc.
Transport can start adding up
If you are lucky enough to be a student with a car, you’re probably already aware of the rising cost of fuel.
Luckily most students aren’t driving vast distances while at university.
this of course excludes commuter students who either have to accept the wild prices for filling up a full tank or pay for public transport which comes with its own set of issues – namely train/bus cancellations and delays.
On the other hand, as a commuter student, you are likely to save a significant amount of money on accommodation and feeding which almost makes up for the lost university experience.
In summary, students have a large burden on them in terms of deciding how to budget for their academic year and supplement the additional income required to cover things like having a social life and paying for transport and feeding.
The good thing about being a student in the UK is that your tuition is automatically paid for in full (as home students), and the burden of debt acquired during your time at university is only payable as a percentage of your income above a certain liveable amount.
The downside is that you still have to supplement the rest of the money when you realise how expensive accommodation is.
It’s times like this when you wish you were a student back in 2009-2012 when your maintenance loan was a grant (you didn’t have to pay it back) and everything was priced somewhat reasonably.
I also wrote a post about whether or not you should work full time at university?
Explore for yourself the world of non-traditional yet lucrative career options that could secure your path to financial success!