Student Finance Team member of staff helping a student

Understanding what you’ll need to pay for and the support available means you can enjoy your uni experience without worrying about money

  • 25 April 2022
  • 3 min read

When thinking about going to university, it’s natural to be a little concerned about your finances.

Especially when you see media headlines with big figures, and lots of zeros on the end. But it’s important for you to understand the cost of university and how you will fund your studies so that you can make an informed decision about whether it’s right for you.

How much does university cost?

This is a question that lots of students ask when they’re thinking about university. But the answer is there isn’t an exact figure, it will be personal to you and the choices you make.

However, all students have 2 main costs when they go to university:

1. Tuition fees

Tuition fees in the UK are currently set at a maximum of £9,250 per year. A typical undergraduate degree is 3 years long, so tuition fees for university could total £27,750. That might seem like a scary number, but as a student you can get a loan to cover this cost and it’s unlikely you’ll repay that full amount (more on that below).

2. Living costs

This can vary quite a lot depending on personal choices that you make in terms of your living arrangements. For example, many students choose to move away from home when they go to university. But this means they will have housing costs to pay for, such as rent, bills and food shopping.

Other students may choose to live at home whilst they study, meaning they can save on things such as rent, but they may need to fund their commute to and from university instead.

How much do students normally spend while at uni?

Interested in learning more about the living costs while at uni? Hear from students and their typical spending habits each week in our Student Money Diaries.

How do students pay for university?

Government student loans

Tuition fee loan

A tuition fee loan covers your course tuition fees, which are currently £9,250 a year for full-time UK students studying at Portsmouth.

The loan is paid directly to the university. The amount you can borrow isn’t based on your household income. 

Maintenance loan

A maintenance loan helps cover your living costs, up to £9,706 a year.

It’s paid directly into your bank account in 3 installments throughout the year. The amount you get depends on where you study, where you live and your family income.

Scholarships & bursaries

You may be able to partly or fully fund the costs of your study with a bursary or scholarship. You usually get these as well as any student loans you’ve applied for, and you don't have to pay them back.

Whether you can get a scholarship or bursary depends on your circumstances. These may include:

  • Students who have been in care or are estranged from their parents
  • Support for disabled students
  • Students who have caring responsibilities
  • Students who have children
  • Sport scholarships
  • Additional financial support for students studying particular courses, for example the NHS Learning Support Fund

Part-time work

Many students also choose to get a part-time job whilst they are at university. This of course helps them top up their finances, so they may be able to spend a bit more on luxuries or days out. But a part time job also helps students build their work experience and meet new people outside of the university.

Understanding how students pay for university
Student loans aren't as scary as you think

If you're worried about taking out a student loan, you're not alone. However, Government student loans are not like any other debt.


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