Beyond Tuition Fees: Counting The Cost of University

With university tuition fees costing as much as £9,000 per year, it is little surprise that they have garnered the most headlines when it comes to the cost of going to university. While some students have parents that are able and willing to pay, many more are getting themselves into debt in the hope that a university degree will lead to a better life once they graduate. They point to the fact that they will not have to repay their loans until they are earning a certain amount, and speak of how university provides opportunities and experiences that are hard to find elsewhere. However, while university is the right choice for many, the idea of the ‘university lifestyle’ is also feeling the financial strain, as statistics show students are being squeezed by increasing costs for rent and transport.

A study undertaken by Family Investments has shown that the cost of attending university is on the rise, with students being left with less disposable income. Although living costs actually fell in 2013 as compared to 2012, increases in rent and transport costs rose enough to wipe out any gain the average student may have felt.

This meant that students had less money to spend on things like clothes and the stereotypical student nights out. In fact, student disposable income has fallen over by 9.5% the last two years while the cost of living has risen, now standing at an estimated £9,988 per year.

When tuition fees are added into the equation, the cost of going to university stands at over £18,000 per year! Furthermore, the cost is expected to keep rising year on year, with estimates saying living expenses will cost over £13,000 per year by 2019 – before tuition fees are added!

The largest single rise in expenditure for students is on rent, having jumped from an average of £171 per month in 2012 to £214 in 2012. Meanwhile, transport costs have also increased by 4.3%, with students now spending around £78 per month.

These rising costs have impacted the student lifestyle, with less money being spent on clothing, food, and going out. 2103 saw a 25.3% drop in the amount spent on clothes by students when compared to the year before, while food spending dropped by 8.1%. As for the much-glorified student lifestyle, that too has been hit, with recreation spending falling by nearly 30% from 2013 to 2012. When it comes to alcohol, students are also spending less, with statistics showing a drop of 39.6% from 2012 to 2013.

All in all, these statistics show a worrying trend, with university students facing ever-tightening budgets even as the cost of living falls overall. While many will rightly look at tuition fees as the largest single cost of university life, it seems that the cost of living is doing the utmost to catch up!

So, before you start to imagine a life of student parties and shopping trips, perhaps it is time to look at exactly where your money will be going should you decide to go to uni. It seems, at least right now, that your landlord will be taking a fair cut of your cash each month – leaving many with less to spend on other essentials – let alone your social life!

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