Uni of Leicester has cheapest cost of living for students
The University of Leicester has been revealed as the most affordable for first-year students for the second year running.
The cost of living in the Midlands town is £192 a week, £4.20 a week less than 2014. That's based on research from HSBC that tracks the cost of student accommodation, weekly essentials, a student bus pass and a weekly alcohol budget.
Low-cost living in Leicester is largely down to having the cheapest student halls at £81.20 a week.
Nottingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Leeds were the other locations with the most affordable living costs in the first year, ranging from £212 to £228 a week.
At the other end of the spectrum, Oxford University costs a staggering £323.60 weekly, largely due to rental costs of £145.
Nuna Syeda, head of current accounts at HSBC, said: "Preparing for university is very exciting but for many teenagers it may be the first time they have to pay for their living costs. Setting a weekly budget early on can help manage these costs and enable students to enjoy all that university life can offer."
Cost of a pint
The research found beer costs for students - based on five pints a week - ranged from £12.25 to £19.25 a week. Cambridge University students face the most expensive bar bill at £19.25 a week, despite the university rising into the top 10 for first-year affordability. Conversely, students at Leeds University will pay just £12.25 for the same amount.
Cost of living falls in second year
HSBC also tracks living costs for second and third-year students, and the latest figures show they pay significantly less.
On average, across the 20 universities assessed, campus accommodation costs £15 a week more than living off-site at £98 compared to £83.
The University of Liverpool is the cheapest place to live for second-year students at £174.48 a week, thanks to low living costs and rental prices of £67 a week.
Warwick has the lowest rent if you're living off campus, at £59.50 a week. Near UCL and Imperial is almost three times the price, at £152.50. London is the only city where on-site accommodation is cheaper than private accommodation.
How to prepare your children financially for university
Ruth Bushi of SavetheStudent.org told Moneywise: "Two-thirds of students we talked to in June told us they wished they'd learned more about money management before starting uni.
"There's evidence of hardship (the majority say money worries affect their diet or studies) and considerable stress - yet a quarter never budget. That figure is up from one-in-three a year ago, but many still arrive at university unprepared for daily living costs. They're playing an immediate game of catch-up, with scramble to find extra income and learning to budget on the fly."
If your kids are about to head to university, Bushi has the following advice:
- Talk about it. Being able to have candid conversations about money at home makes the whole thing less frightening. Picking up terms like credit, debt and overdrafts early on equips students to find out more or get help when they need it.
- Be upfront about your own finances, from how you balance the budget to how much you can afford to contribute to maintenance costs. A third of students told us they didn't get enough financial support from their parents, but many we talked to also said they feel guilty asking their parents for money, especially when they think it places an unfair burden on the family budget or parents' income.
- Practice what you preach. If you want your kids to be savvy about savings or equipped to cope with debt, lead by example.
- Get to grips with student finance together, including bursaries, scholarships, grants and giveaways. You don't need to become a certified loans officer but, at the very least, you'll know where to get further funds or advice when it's needed.
- Encourage your child to make their own back-up funds. Our statistics show that getting the full complement of student finance may still not be enough for most to live on. Finding ways to make more money - from starting a student business to leveraging the interest on a savings account - are good skills at uni and beyond.
- Take a balanced view of debt. What does borrowing 'buy you' - and is it a good buy in terms of terms, charges and ability to repay? Rather than avoiding debt altogether, well-managed credit can pave the way to a better credit score when applying for banking products later on (including a graduate account)
Your credit score is a three-digit number (ranging from a low of 300 to a high of 850) calculated from the information in your credit report. Your credit score enables lenders to determine how much of a credit risk you are. Basically, a low credit score indicates you present a higher risk of defaulting on your debt obligations than someone with a high score. If you have a low credit score, any products you successfully apply for will carry a higher rate of interest commensurate with this risk.