University of Cambridge

Undergraduate

Study

Living Costs

'Living costs' cover whatever you need to pay for, excluding tuition fees, while you're at university. For example:

  • accommodation
  • food
  • learning costs/study materials
  • personal expenses and transport

We've estimated that you should allow approximately £8,150 a year for living costs (though this will vary depending on your lifestyle), including:

Accommodation* £2,700-£3,600
£3,000-£4,200 en suite
Kitchen facilities charges*

£400-£600

College meals £3-£4 each
Transport Cheap or free!

* Figures based on an academic year of 30 weeks.

Accommodation

Most Colleges offer accommodation in a range of price bands to suit different budgets. As a rough guide, the rent for a 30-week year for most single study bedrooms is as follows:

  • £90-£120 per week with a shared bathroom
  • £100-£140 per week with en suite

See the Accommodation page for further details and a comparison with regional and national average student accommodation costs. See also individual College websites for more information about the accommodation available.

Food

At Cambridge, you don’t have to choose between ‘catered’ or ‘self-catered’ accommodation – Colleges provide basic self-catering facilities as well as cafeterias/dining halls. Some levy a charge towards the running costs of the College kitchens – the kitchen facilities charge – and then offer meals at lower prices. A small number of Colleges require you to have a certain number of meals in the Buttery or dining hall each term (see individual College websites for details).

  • Most weekly kitchen facilities charges are around £13-£19.
  • Individual meals typically cost £3-£4.
  • Many Colleges have regular 'formal halls' (three-course dinners) that are also great value at around £6-£10.
Learning costs

The costs of study materials (sometimes referred to as ‘course costs’) varies depending on your course but may include:

  • equipment (eg calculator, lab coat)
  • photocopying
  • study materials (eg paper, pens, books)
  • travel costs (eg field or dissertation research trips)

Specific course costs can be found on the relevant faculty/department website.

The University’s numerous libraries and IT facilities help to keep your costs down, and many Colleges and some departments offer grants to help with particular costs (see individual College and department websites for details).

Personal expenses

What you spend on food, clothing, transport etc depends on your lifestyle. However, there are lots of free recreational activities plus loads of College-based and student-run activities that don’t cost very much. What’s more, Cambridge is a small place so transport is cheap or free – most students walk or cycle everywhere and there’s a Uni 4 bus service that offers discounted fares to students.

College fees

Unlike overseas fee status students and Islands students (from the Channel Islands and Isle of Man), UK/EU students who are eligible for public support don't normally have to pay an additional College fee, unless they're studying for a second degree (affiliated students). More information about College fees is given in the international students' fees and finance section.

A few budgeting tips

Learning how to manage your money is an important skill that you’ll need throughout your life. If going to university will be the first time you’ve had to manage your own finances, here are a few tips to help you get started.

Be prepared

  • Look into financial support:
    • what might you be eligible for?
    • how and when you would need to apply for it?
    • would that support be non-repayable (eg bursaries, scholarships) or would you have repay that support (eg loans), and if so when and on what terms?
  • Try to get to grips with what your budget for a year will be as early as possible, then consider how you’ll need to break that figure down into terms and weeks. If you intend to apply for any financial support, find out when you would receive such support – eg in one lump sum at the beginning of the year, or at the beginning of each term?
  • If you’re able to, ask current students about what costs they have and at what time(s) of the year.

Read the small print

  • If you decide to apply for financial support, make sure you fully understand the arrangements and the terms and conditions.
  • If you choose to open a student bank account, do your research – don’t just base your decision on a freebie. As for financial support, make you understand what you’re agreeing to and the terms and conditions, particularly regarding any charges, interest levels and overdraft repayment arrangements.

Pace yourself

  • Plan for the whole year, each term and each week.
  • Think about what you’ll need to pay for throughout the year and try and get an idea of how much those things will cost. This may include things like:
    • weekly outgoings, such as food and groceries
    • monthly outgoings, such as bills and rent
    • occasional outgoings, such as books and notepads
    • one-off costs, such as a research trip or piece of equipment

Don’t spend more than you have

  • It may sound obvious but it’s important to remember – working out and sticking to a budget will help you make the most of your time at university as you’ll have a better idea of where and how you can be more flexible with what money you have.
  • Reduce your expenditure where you can – where relevant, make shopping lists and avoid impulse buys; and applying the ‘need vs want’ test to purchasing decisions can help too.
  • Shop around for the best prices – markets, supermarkets, the internet, second-hand book shops etc; and take advantage of any money-off vouchers and student discounts.
  • An overdraft is not ‘income’ or extra money and so you shouldn’t include it in your budget – don’t forget that you will have to pay an overdraft back, and your bank may charge you each time you’re overdrawn.

Vacation employment

  • Investigate vacation employment opportunities – as well as providing you with some extra income, you’ll be able to gain work experience and develop transferrable skills that will prepare you for life after university.
  • The Careers Service (and some academic departments) can help advise you on potential placements and applications.

Don’t panic

  • If you have any queries or concerns about your financial circumstances at any time, seek advice as early as you can – there may be additional guidance or financial support available to help you get back on track.