How to spend a student loan (part 1)

After you’ve applied for your funding, you can now think about how you’ll spend your money when you get to university. Whether it’s the first time you’ve had to manage your finances or you’re swapping a salary for a student loan, if you start to look at and prepare for potential costs early, it will be easier to create a budget – allowing more time and energy to enjoy your new life at university.

We’ve put together two blogposts looking at the costs you should consider– this part focusses on rent and everyday bills; part 2 looks at course costs, mobile phones/ broadband and travel.


After tuition fees, this is likely to be your largest expense. If you’re a mature student living in your own home, you’ll already know how much to factor into your budget, but if you’re moving into Halls of Residence or a shared house near the campus, it’s a good idea to do some research into typical rents before you arrive. Halls rents vary from £82 per week for a shared twin en-suite room to £162 per week for a single studio flat (further information is available through the Accommodation page), with many students choosing a single en-suite room which costs between £101 per week (2017/18 figures).

In the private sector, costs can vary, but the average weekly cost for a non-ensuite room in a shared house is £80. Make sure you are aware of how much you’re expected to pay and when, and compare this with your Student Finance entitlement. Don’t forget that you’ll probably need to pay a deposit (average £300 – 350) to hold your room before you start university – and receive any student funding – so you will need to make sure you can cover this too.

Utility bills

Moving away from home may mean that this is the first time that you need to pay for gas and/or electricity, and water. If you’re living in Halls, these will be included in your rent, but if you’re in a shared house, utilities might not be covered – so check your tenancy agreement to make sure. Average bills can vary depending upon whether the property already has an electricity and/or water meter fitted, as well as on how much you use – you can consider putting aside £20 per week to cover these. Even if you are used to paying for utilities, it’s always worth seeing whether you can cut back on costs; Save the Student and Money Saving Expert websites have plenty of advice on how to do this.


It might seem obvious, but don’t forget to allocate money towards food and toiletries. Your budget won’t allow you to eat out or have takeaways every day so if you’ve never been food shopping or done much cooking before, it’s time to do some research – grab a (virtual) cookbook and practice your culinary skills; see our blogposts Mend your spending habits!, Savvy shopping, and Cooking vs Takeaway for inspiration and useful links! Save the Student reports that the average student spends approx. £28 – 30 per week on food, but they think you can slash this to £15 only! How? Find out more here.

We’ll be looking at budgeting for course costs, mobile phones, and travel in our How to spend a student loan – part 2 blogpost – coming soon.

For further guidance on money management, see our ‘How do I budget, and why do I need one?’ and other posts; online tools like UCAS and Which University budget calculators can help. If you’d like help putting your budget together, please get in touch.

If you have any budgeting tips, let us know and we’ll feature the best ones on the blog!