The Secret Hidden Costs of University

Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.

John Wesley.

Many prospective students are aware of how much a degree will set them back. Or at least they think they are.

Unavoidable, unexpected and often far from affordable, the ‘hidden’ costs of uni can come as quite a shock to the uninformed student – we have a look at some of these costs and how you can avoid them!

Accommodation. The Living Costs.

– You expect to pay: £3000-£5000 (£7000 in London)

– Hidden extras: up to £500

What are the hidden costs for students?

You’ll probably be required to pay a deposit, which is often (but not always) deducted from the yearly cost. Certain institutions, however, may demand payment before your university place is even confirmed, forcing you to gamble up to £500.

How can I cut the costs?

If possible, check your first choice university’s policy as you may only be given a short time to find the cash – before student loans arrive – and could otherwise risk your accommodation place. Deposits can also vary between halls and types of accommodation within each university, so it may help to look into this before you make your choice.

Course materials

>>>  You expect to pay: £200-£300 if buying brand new books

>>>  Hidden extras: at least £400, possibly up to £1500

What are the hidden financial costs?

The number of books needed will depend on your course, but most full-priced textbooks cost around £30. Prices may be higher for certain subjects though, with books costing closer to £60 for languages and business, or even £100 for medicine.

Even if you borrow all your books from the library, you will not escape hidden course costs entirely; for most students, it is equipment and fieldwork rather than books that work out most expensive. Research by the NUS has found:

– These costs are most expensive for maths and sciences, costing up to £1500

– For medical students, they are somewhat lower at approximately £900

– Education has the lowest additional costs, but will still set you back over £400

{AF template=round_quotes} Preparation is key, so knowing what you’ll be expected to pay for in advance can help you find the cheapest options before anybody else gets there first. {/AF} Most equipment can be found fairly cheaply with a little bit of research.

How can I cut the costs?

Don’t be scared of buying second hand books online or from older students – they’re cheaper, more environmentally friendly and usually just as good as expensive new copies (just check it’s the right edition!). It’s unlikely you will need your entire reading list so contacting the department or older students to find out which ones you will definitely need can be useful. And don’t forget the library – free books are better than cheap books, after all.

Societies and sports

– You expect to pay: £2 per training session/class/meeting

– Hidden extras: £15-£400

What are the hidden financial costs?

With a good degree alone no longer sufficient, commitment to a society or sport is virtually essential. But again it comes at a price – a very high price at times, and each year students find themselves missing out due to being unprepared for the high price of sign-up fees, kit and other equipment, which can cost up to £200 each. Others, overwhelmed by the just how much is on offer, waste money signing up to lots of societies which they later find they don’t have the time for.

How can I cut the costs?

Most student unions publish a list of societies and sports teams on their website. By looking at this in advance, you will be able to budget for the ones you might want to join and avoid wasting money on others.

Be aware, be prepared and don’t let the hidden costs catch you out!

By sowing frugality, we reap liberty, a golden harvest.


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