Students: where does all the money go?

So what exactly do students spend all their money on? Megan Haddow has the answer

With top-up fees recently coming into full effect, academia has almost taken a back seat as the subject of money dominates university life. So, just where does all that money go? Here's a look at some of things students spend their money on...


The majority of many students' loan is spent on their accommodation, whether they are staying in halls or a shared house. Most universities offer very fair deals on campus accommodation, with all bills included and good rates of rent. Removing this cost would relieve a major financial burden, but would also mean getting rained on rather a lot.


Whether your child is in self-catered or catered accommodation, they will still need to pay for their own food; often a new experience when having taken the free food in the fridge for granted all these years! Now that you are no longer there to make the stock of supermarket goods appear by magic, students realise that a large portion of their income is spent on food.


Travel costs include taking the tube around London, the bus around Birmingham, driving a car in Cardiff and making that important trip home once a term or so. Costs vary depending on the area and mode of transport, but even if your son or daughter does not have to pay to run a car, bus and train tickets can be just as expensive.


Having fun is a must in student life, an important break from lectures and the hours clocked up in the library. Going to the theatre, dinner with housemates or a drink in the Students' Union bar all add up. These weekly excursions can amount to a lot of money being spent in a year on socialising and entertainment.

Books and study

Though not every student is studying English, most courses have set texts and background reading relevant to the course, and not all of these books can be found in the library. Even if there are a couple of copies available, it's a bit of a lottery for your child to become the person in possession.


All students like to look good, and while most of the shopping they'll be doing will be in a supermarket, it is also possible that they will make that occasional trip to the high street. After all, buying new clothes is easier than washing the old ones, right?

Mobile phone

As well as contacting you every few hours to ask how to work the oven and the washing machine, students also like to keep up to date with their friends who are probably spread both around the UK and the university campus. Both contract and pay-as-you-go mobile phones cost a substantial amount each month, so keeping in touch can be a financial burden.


Although they may bring a huge pile of clothes home for you when they come to visit, your child can dispense a lot of money into the coin slot of a washing machine when they're in halls. It's a small amount of money each time, but it all comes out in the wash.


Edward Jackson, 19, is a second-year Films Studies student at The Arts Institute in Bournemouth

Because I live in Bournemouth in a shared house, my accommodation isn't too expensive. I pay around £280 a month for rent, which includes all my bills, and I pay that for seven months of the year. I spend about £20-£30 a week on food, as I live in self-catering accommodation, but I spend hardly any money on clothes because I can't afford any! £30 a week goes on nights out, which I always feel guilty about as it should probably be less.

As far as travel is concerned I go home every term - roughly every two months - and that costs £25 each time. Apart from these trips, I spend about £6 a week on taxis to get into the town centre and back. My worst indulgence is my phone, which I spent about £120 a month on last year! Now, however, I have changed my contract so I should spend only half of that a month, though it's still a lot!

To cover all these costs I have a student loan, but I also work 39 hours a week at a supermarket, which really helps. I think that by the time I finish my three-year course I'll be in debt of around £12,000.