Students buying a meal in a cafeteria

Before you apply to study in the UK, we strongly recommend that you research how much it is likely to cost, to make sure you can afford it and to help you plan.

Course fees are likely to be one of your biggest expenses – but don’t forget day-to-day living costs as well.

To help you plan your living costs, have a look at the International Student Calculator. This is an excellent resource. It’s also worth finding out before you enrol:

  • What is/isn't covered in your course fees: You may have to pay extra for books, clothing, equipment or trips. Ask your course provider for full details.

  • What is/isn't covered in your accommodation fees: For accommodation owned by your school, college or university, ask if this covers food, laundry, bedding, TV licence, internet access etc. For private accommodation, evaluate costs for utilities (gas, water and electricity), TV licence, food and groceries, and potentially Council Tax. Find out more in our Accommodation article.

Our top money-saving tips

  • The National Union of Students card and International Student Identity card offer great student discounts in many shops, restaurants and businesses. Have a look to see if you could save money with one of these cards.

  • Direct debits are automatic payments from your bank account to another company on a fixed date each month. Many companies offer a discount for direct debits, particularly for gas, water, electricity and TV licence payments. Find out if you can make savings by contacting your suppliers.

  • Study books and materials can be expensive. Check with your tutors what is essential for your course. It's also worth looking in your library for free books, or looking on campus noticeboards for second-hand book sales.

  • There are lots of great discounts for buses, trains, planes and boat trips in and around the UK. For travel savings, read our article about travelling in the UK.

  • Shop around to find the cheapest deals on food and other day-to-day items. Some supermarkets are more expensive than others, and some have budget ranges with similar food and household items at much cheaper prices. Also, it's often cheaper to buy groceries in bulk. If you live with housemates, you could cook meals together.

For more advice to help you eat well while saving money, see Eating on a budget in the UK.

  • Most stores hold seasonal sales where you can pick up a bargain. The biggest sales are usually just after Christmas (26 December onwards). Alternatively, look in charity shops on your local high street for cheap second-hand clothes, books and music.
  • Check out your Students’ Union! They often house a café, pub, hairdresser, launderette, travel agent, grocery store and much more... offering services at student-friendly prices.

  • Have a look at the Student Beans website, student newsletters and daily deals websites for more discounts and offers.

  • Read the advice of other international students in Student tips – Living on a budget. Saving money doesn't have to mean having no fun – find out how other students dine out and even travel around Europe on a budget.

Financial difficulties

If you experience financial difficulties in the UK, please visit the UK Council for International Student Affairs website for advice or call their telephone line (the number is on their website).

Alternatively, speak to your student welfare or student union office, or talk to any staff at your institution.

Read more: Budgeting for your first few weeks in the UK