Money management


Each campus has a Specialist Adviser who can be contacted through the Gateway. We can help you with budgeting, advice about bank accounts, tax and national insurance, or where to turn if you run into trouble with debt or loan repayments.

Student budgeting spreadsheet

This student budgeting spreadsheet from Save The Student can be downloaded and used in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.


Balancing your income and expenditure can be a difficult task, however, proper budgeting can help you take control of your finances and help with your peace of mind.

When you first receive your student loan, it may well seem like a large amount of money. However, this money will most likely need to last the entire term. If you're not careful, it can quickly run out.

The bigger costs like accommodation, travel or bills are often easy to remember, but smaller expenses can be a significant part of what you are spending.

For example, something as cheap as a cup of coffee on your way in to university, four days a week, can add up to a lot of money over the course of an academic year.

£2.10 x 4 days x 39 weeks (academic year) = £327.60

Or another example: buying a bottle of water every week day during term time:

85p x 5 days x 39 weeks - £165.75

Once you have paid for accommodation, bills and other similar expenses, you may find yourself with less than £2500 to live on for the academic year, so it's important to think about how these little expenses add up.

It's important to be realistic about your spending patterns. You should think about what expenditure is essential, and where you can make savings.  

If you're not sure what you're spending your money on, keep a spending diary for a couple of weeks so that you can see exactly where your money is going. This means you need to record everything you buy. If you take money out of a cash machine, write down how much you have withdrawn and then what you spent it on.  Remember to include things you pay for by debit and credit card. Make a note of every purchase, no matter how little it cost.

Once you have a better idea of where your money is going, you can make informed decisions about where you can make savings. When you add these smaller, day to day costs to the bigger, monthly or annual costs like rent or bills, you can begin to work out a monthly budget.

  • Money Helper

    Money Helper offers free and impartial financial advice. They have lots of resources and online tools to help you manage your money and debts, including a budget planner which can help you see where to make savings.

  • The Money Charity

    The Money Charity's Student Money Manual is aimed mainly at first years, but is useful for second and third years too.  This guide is useful for all aspects of managing money at university.

  • National Debtline

    National Debtline offers a specialist free and confidential telephone advice service for people with debt problems. There is also a wealth of online fact sheets on all aspects of debt and resources including sample letters for creditors to enable people to deal with debts themselves.

  • Debt Advice Foundation

    Debt Advice Foundation is a free and confidential specialist advisory service on any aspect of debt. They also have a number of online resources.

  • Citizens Advice Bureau

    You can get advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau either by using their online advice service or by calling in to your local branch.

Money saving tips

If you're careful with how and where you choose to spend your money, you can end up making some significant savings. Try waiting a week or two before you buy anything to see if you really want it, take advantage of student discounts available and shop around to find the best deal you can get.

Buy a TOTUM card and get a range of discounts including Amazon, Odeon Cinemas and the Co-op group.

Register with UniDAYS to access a range of great discounts from a variety of companies. Registering is free but requires an active student email address.

16-25 Railcard

Get 1/3 off Standard Anytime, Off-Peak, Standard Advanced and First Class Advanced fares. Students over 25 studying over 15 hours a week also qualify.

National Express Young Persons Coach Card

If you're aged 16-26 or are a full-time student, this card from National Express gives you 1/3 off standard fares.

18+ Student Oyster

If you're 18 or over, in full time education and live at a London address during term time you may be eligible for an 18+ Student Oyster photocard. The Student Oyster offers 30% off the price of adult-rate Travelcards and Bus & Tram Pass season tickets.

Bank accounts, credit cards & loans

Advice on student bank accounts, credit cards and loans.

Opening a student bank account will usually give you access to an interest free overdraft. This means that you will have the ability to borrow money within agreed boundaries without cost and without incurring repayment charges.

Many banks offer incentives to students to open an account with them but beware - banks offering the best incentives are often not offering the best accounts! Decide what you want to get from your bank account and have a good look at what the banks are offering to make sure you make the right choice for you.

Remember if you have an interest free overdraft but exceed your arranged limit, charges will be high. For example, you could be charged an unauthorised borrowing fee, a daily charge and a return direct debit charge for any direct debits which cannot be paid. These charges will very quickly mount up and will continue to be applied until your balance returns to within your limit.  Remember also that you will have to repay your overdraft once you are no longer a student. However most banks will allow you a period of time before asking you to do this, usually between 6 and 12 months.

Save the Student reviews student bank accounts and offers advice to students on how to manage their account.

All international students are advised to open a UK bank account as soon as possible after enrolment. Having a UK bank account will be important if you need to apply for a visa to visit another country or extend your student visa, as you will need to provide bank statements to do this.

Bank accounts for international students don’t offer the overdraft facilities that those aimed at home students do. They do, however, occasionally offer other incentives such as free rail cards or bus passes. It is important to remember that the account with the best incentives isn’t necessarily the best account. You should shop around and see which accounts offer the best terms.


  • The British Council has more information about UK bank accounts.
  • Save The Student reviews student bank accounts and offers advice to students on how to manage their account.

As a student you may find yourself offered what can appear to be tempting deals on credit cards, store cards and payday loans. However all are a major contributing factor in student debt, and you should try and avoid them at all costs. Interest rates can be outrageous and will increase a debt at an alarming rate.

If you are thinking of applying for a credit or store card or a payday loan, please contact your Specialist Adviser urgently for advice before doing so. Remember help is always available.

Whilst it might be tempting to use a credit or store card, it's important to understand the true cost if you are unable to pay off the balance of your card each month. For example, if you are being charged 29.5% APR, then for each £100 you spend you are being charged an additional £29.50. If you only pay off a small amount of your balance each month, the longer it takes to pay off, the more interest you will pay.

Remember that if you miss a credit or store card payment, you will incur a late payment charge and missed payments will stay on your credit report for years. This could harm your chances of getting finance such as a mortgage.

Money Helper's Credit card calculator is a good way to see how long it will take you to clear a credit card balance.

Payday loans might seem an attractive and quick remedy to a short term financial problem but the reality is anything but. Crippling interest rates often make repayments extremely difficult, with interest rates of over 1000% not unusual. Additional charges, such as late payment charges, can quickly see even a small loan turning into something completely unmanageable.

Money Helper offers good information on payday loans and the alternatives.

Dealing with debt

If you are worried about debt please contact the Specialist Adviser at your campus. They will be able to help you manage your finances and take control of the situation. Remember help is always available.

The following guidelines can help you take control of your finances. Remember, don't ignore the problem; the longer you leave it, the worse it will get.

  • Always open correspondence relating to debts. Ignoring letters won't make the problem go away.
  • Make the most of your income. Have you received all of the student loan/grant you are entitled to? Can you increase your income by getting a job, or perhaps selling something?
  • Make a list of your debts. Don't forget to include any money owed to friends or family, unpaid bills and any amounts owed on credit cards.
  • Utility companies will not cut off your supply as long as you make a payment plan and stick to it.
  • Always keep copies of letters and papers you send or receive.
  • Don't borrow money to pay off your bills without thinking carefully. Always get advice first.
  • Sticking to a budget can help you manage your debt. See our budgeting section for more information.

The Specialist Adviser at your campus is available to help you organise your finances. If you really don't feel like you can speak to anyone at UCA about your debts, the following organisations and online tools can be very useful. Beware of companies offering to sort out your debts for a fee; there is plenty of help available free of charge.

Money Helper has lots of resources and online tools to help you manage your money and debts.

National Debtline offers a specialist free and confidential telephone advice service for people with debt problems. There is also a wealth of online fact sheets on all aspects of debt and resources including sample letters for creditors to enable people to deal with debts themselves.

Debt Advice Foundation is a free and confidential specialist advisory service on any aspect of debt. They also have a number of online resources. 

You can get advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau by using their online advice service or by calling in to your local branch.

Contact us

Anna Mepstead
Tel: +44 (0)1227 817 307

Nyawira Nijirani
Tel: +44 (0)1372 202 441

Andrea Beattie
Tel: +44 (0)1252 892 612