Why should I plan a budget?
Managing money is an important part of student life. Whether you are living away from home for the first time, new to London or returning to study after working full-time, planning a budget can mean that you are less likely to experience financial problems which could seriously affect your studies.
If you are an international student, we have separate money advice and budgeting pages for you.
Has your budget been affected by the pandemic? You may like to refer to our webpage, Your money and the Coronavirus situation for some helpful advice.
You may like to gain financial skills and knowledge by taking part in MSE’s Academy of Money This is a free and independent academic financial education course, prepared and written by the Open University with guidance from Money Saving Expert. Hosted on the OU’s OpenLearn platform, the course is made up of six two-hour sessions of study covering all the key aspects of personal finance, including spending, borrowing, mortgages, saving, investing and retirement.
Watch our short animation about budgeting and see what the benefits of planning a budget are.
Although living in London tends to be more expensive than in other UK cities, this does not mean it is unaffordable and with careful planning, most students are able to manage on the income that is available to them. For example, there is a much greater range of shops and supermarkets in London from the very cheap to the very expensive than you would tend to find in smaller towns and cities. There are also several websites devoted to activities you can enjoy for free in London such as Time Out’s London for Free. The Student Finance Maintenance Loan is also paid at a higher rate for undergraduate students living away from home in London compared to students living outside of London, which acknowledges the higher cost of living in London. If you are thinking of working part-time to increase your income, some employers now pay the ‘Living Wage’ which is higher than the minimum wage and is intended to meet the actual basic costs of living in London.
How much you spend is a very personal matter and will vary depending on your individual lifestyle. In the sections below you will see examples of an average ‘careful’ budget for an undergraduate student and one for a postgraduate student which should help you see how much you might expect to spend. A ‘careful’ budget is one which is intended to cover basic costs as well as occasional treats without being extravagant.
If you're worried about money, you're not alone. Savethestudent's annual money surveys show that most students worry about managing financially and very few have ever budgeted. Read on below to find out how planning a basic budget with a spreadsheet or an app can help you better manage the cost of living in London.
Making sure you get all of the income you are entitled to is as important as being careful about your spending. The Advice and Counselling Service Money web page contains links to our most popular advice guides and other resources, for example, for students with special circumstances. These can help you identify any income you are eligible for and how to apply for it.
A Welfare Adviser can help you check that you are getting all of the money you are entitled to and can help you think of ways of maximising your income.
Planning a budget means calculating what your income and spending is over a set period of time such as nine or twelve months. You then compare your income and spending to see if there is a difference between them: this is known as a shortfall in funding. If you have a shortfall, once you know how much it is, you can think about what you can do to increase your income or reduce your spending.
To help you get started we have created some worked examples of a typical undergraduate budget: UG-Monthly-Budget-20-21.xlsx [XLS 24KB] and a separate spreadsheet for a postgraduate student: PG-Monthly-Budget-20-21.xlsx [XLS 23KB] which you can personalise - see 'Budgeting for undergraduates', 'Budgeting for postgraduates' and 'Creating your personal budget' below.
Follow the instructions in the 'Creating your personal budget' section below to adapt the pre-populated template to create your own individual budget or, if you prefer, use the blank versions of the spreadsheet which you can populate yourself. If you are an international student, please see our budgeting page for international students and have a look at the budget spreadsheet, which you can also adapt to suit your personal circumstances or use the blank one to create your own version.
Open the spreadsheets to see income and expenditure at a glance and click on the red tabs beside each item for helpful information about income and spending.
These days there are lots of different apps and budget planners online so try and find one that works for you. The Moneysavingexpert website lists lots of apps, planners and tips to help you hone your budget. Savethestudent also has a list of apps you can try out and a budget planner. Many of the planners will not list all of the income or expenditure that ours do, but there are usually options for adding in extras. Try and remember to include all of your individual expenses and all the money you have coming in, otherwise you will not create a realistic overview of your finances.
Don't feel that you have to have a problem to see a Welfare Adviser: a lot of our work is aimed at helping students to budget and avoid their finances becoming a problem at all. We also welcome enquiries from prospective students who are planning their finances. The information on this website for Undergraduates, Postgraduates and International students can help you do that.
Budgeting for undergraduates
Download the budget: UG-Monthly-Budget-20-21.xlsx [XLS 24KB] to see what an average 'careful' budget might look like. As an undergraduate, your budget will be from September to June unless you need to stay in London and pay rent over summer, in which case you might want to plan for twelve months rather than nine. Your main income will usually come from your student loan, your interest-free overdraft, part time work and any Queen Mary University bursaries or scholarships that you are eligible for, though you might have other income you can include like savings or help from parents.
Your main essential costs are likely to be rent, travel and food but you'll see there are lots of other things listed on the budget which you might need or want to spend money on, depending on your individual circumstances.
If you're living in Queen Mary University halls, you can request that your rent is split into three equal instalments, rather than paying two larger and one smaller instalment. This should help with cashflow and give you a bit more money to spend in the earlier part of the year. Email email@example.com to request this. There is more information about Queen Mary halls accommodation in the Queen Mary Residents' Handbook and Queen Mary Residents' Guide. If you are not living in halls, you would normally need to pay rent monthly. If your rent doesn’t include bills, you will need to allow an extra amount in your budget for bills.
If you are new to London or if you have accommodation but need to move Queen Mary Residential Services and Support can advise you about your options. For advice about cheaper accommodation options, see the 'rent' section of Money Saving Ideas. You might also find it useful to look at the London rents map which allows you to type in a location or postcode to see what the average rent is for that area.
A growing number of students have decided it makes better financial sense for them to live outside of London and commute in as even with higher travel costs, it can still be cheaper than living in London. There are some other ideas for renting more cheaply on the Advice and Counselling Service 'Finding Accommodation' webpage.
The rent deposit for Queen Mary University Halls is £300. If you are living in private rented accommodation, it is usual to have to pay a deposit equivalent to at least one month’s rent as well as one month’s rent in advance. If you are renting from a lettings agency, you should not be charged fees for getting a reference, a credit or immigration check or any administration. Shelter's website explains what fees landlords are allowed to charge.
If you need help finding accommodation, see Queen Mary Residential Services and Support online information. For advice about paying rent or a deposit, for example, if paying a deposit has left you short of money, or you cannot afford to pay a deposit, in the Advice and Counselling Service.
There are many options for travelling in London and how much you need to pay will depend on where you live, how often you need to travel, how quickly you need to get somewhere and how much you want to spend. The 'Travel' section of Money Saving Ideas gives a detailed explanation of all the different options available for travel on buses, trains and trams in and outside of London, what the costs are and how you can save money with your 18+ Student Oyster and a 16-25 Railcard.
Food costs will typically cover food shopping for cooking at home as well as drinks/snacks at university. Although what you spend will reflect your individual circumstances and personal preferences, there are lots of way of saving money which we outline in the Food section of Money Saving Ideas.
The budget planner lists many different costs and types of income, some of which will not apply to you, but by listing everything you spend money on throughout the year, you should hopefully be able to create a realistic budget. This will show all the money you have coming in and going out every month, as well as your totals for the year. You might be surprised at how spending small amounts on certain things can mount up over the year. You'll find many of the costs listed alphabetically from Banking to TV licences in Money Saving Ideas - just scroll down the list for detailed advice and tips on how to get the best value for money.
Balancing your budget
Once you have completed your budget, even if you have an overall surplus for the year, you still might see a deficit in certain months, in which case you'll need to consider how to improve your cashflow. You might be able to work more hours or temporarily increase your interest-free overdraft. A spreadsheet allows you to adjust the figures at any time to reflect changes in income and spending, which might result in a further deficit of funds.
However, if you are clear about how much income you have and how much your costs are likely to be, it should be feasible to plan ahead for those times when you might be short of money and stop yourself overspending, as well as considering ways of how you can end the year with a surplus. See the 'How to control your spending’ section below for tips on making sure you don’t overspend and ways of increasing your income.
Once you have planned your budget, if you predict you will have a slight shortfall in funding, you may be able to apply to Queen Mary University Financial Assistance Fund (FAF) for a non-repayable grant to help top up your living costs. Please note that FAF is unable to help pay tuition fees. For more information about applying for hardship funding, see the Advice and Counselling Service’s Additional Sources of Funding advice guide.
Download the budget: PG-Monthly-Budget-20-21.xlsx [XLS 23KB]to see an example of an average 'careful' budget for a postgraduate student. There are some key difference between an undergraduate and a postgraduate budget:
- postgraduate academic years run over a twelve month period rather than over nine months so you will need to plan for those extra months
- whilst most postgraduates are eligible for a Master's Loan or Doctoral Loan which can be can be used towards the cost of tuition fees or living costs, the amount of the loan will rarely cover both, so you will need to consider how you are going to make up any shortfall in your funding
- if you are a Master's student, you must pay 50% of the tuition fees for your course at enrolment and the remaining 50% by the end of January. As set out in Queen Mary's Tuition Fee Regulations, if you have been granted a Master's Loan, you can be offered an alternative payment schedule which aligns with the three payment dates of your Master's Loan, normally September, January and April. However any shortfall in fees will be split equally with 50% due at enrolment and the remaining shortfall payable by the end of January.
Given your Master's or Doctoral loan may not cover all of your fees or living costs, it is important to secure enough income to cover both your tuition fees and living costs before you start your course, so you can focus 100% on your studies without worrying about money and also, if one option does not work out, you have time to look into alternatives. A good place to start is the Advice and Counselling Service's 'Postgraduate Funding' advice guide, which explains the different options for funding your studies including links to the 'Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding' and to the 'Prospects' website.
The earlier you start looking into funding, generally the more options you will have as, leaving it to the last minute may mean you have missed scholarship deadlines, or you have not managed to secure enough part time work. Starting a course without sufficient funding in place is best avoided. This is because if you have to interrupt your studies due to financial reasons, and then need to repeat part of the course, you may be liable to pay further tuition fees. The Postgraduate Funding guide explains more about how changes to your studies affect tuition fee liability.
Once you have identified possible sources of funding, check whether you meet any eligibility criteria and that you will be applying in time before any advertised deadline. Try and explore as many options as possible to spread the risk by securing small amounts of funding from several different sources, rather than relying on one larger sum of money from one organisation, as there is no guarantee your application will succeed.
Like undergraduates your main source of income is likely to come from your student loans, your interest-free overdraft and part-time work though you may have access to other income such as savings or financial help from family. However, unlike undergraduates, if you need to use your Master's or Doctoral loan to pay your tuition fees, you will need to secure additional income to fund your core living costs.
Rent and bills
You will generally need to budget for a twelve month period but you could check with your academic school whether you need to be in London on campus for the whole period. Unless you need access to Queen Mary library facilities or to undertake lab work, you may be able to work remotely from home, for example, on your dissertation. If it is not essential for you to stay in London once your exams have finished, you could consider other options such as moving back home to your parents or to cheaper accommodation outside of London which could help you save on living costs.
If you sign a twelve month tenancy agreement but then realise you don't want or need to stay in London over summer, you might not be able to get out of your housing contract, so planning ahead is an important aspect of budgeting. As a postgraduate, if you are living in Queen Mary University halls, you can usually arrange to stay on in your accommodation for some or all of the summer months if you don't wish to move out once your exams have finished but you would need to pay rent for any extra periods you stayed in halls, and you may need to move to a different room or a different hall of residence.
Queen Mary University Residential Services and Support can advise you about finding private rented accommodation as well as the availability of Queen Mary University halls places and the average costs of these. You might also find it useful to look at the London rents map which allows you to type in a location or postcode to see what a typical rent is for that area.
A growing number of students have decided it makes better financial sense for them to live outside of London and commute in as even with higher travel costs, it can still be cheaper than living in London. There are some other ideas for renting more cheaply on the Advice and Counselling Service 'Finding Accommodation' webpage and in the 'Rent' section of Money Saving ideas.
If you need advice about paying rent or a deposit, for example, if paying a deposit has left you short of money or you cannot afford to pay a deposit, contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service.
There are many options for travelling in London depending on where you live, how often you need to travel, how quickly you need to get somewhere and how much you want to spend. The Travel section of Money Saving ideas gives a detailed explanation of all the different options available for travel on buses, trains, trams in and outside of London. It also explains what the costs are and how you can save money with your 18+ Student Oyster card and a 16-25 Railcard.
16-25 Railcards are normally only available for full-time postgraduate students. However, if you are a part-time postgraduate student who has been awarded financial assistance from the Queen Mary University Financial Assistance Fund (FAF), you can apply for a railcard. Your financial award letter explains what you need to do.
To help you work out what option is right for you, try keeping a record of your pay as you go or contactless payments for your first week or month and then compare the money you have spent with the cost of a weekly or monthly Travelcard to see which is cheaper. As it can be complicated to understand your options, it might be useful to speak to an adviser on the Oystercard helpline 0343 222 1234. You can also find further information and advice on TFL's Help and contacts webpage.
Food costs will typically cover food shopping for cooking at home as well as drinks and snacks at university. Although what you spend will reflect you individual circumstances and personal preferences, there are lots of ways of saving money which we outline in the 'Food' section of Money Saving Ideas.
The budget planner lists many different costs some of which you won't spend money on but by listing all your expenses throughout the year, you should hopefully be able to create a realistic budget. This will show all the money you have coming in and going out each month, as well as your totals for the year. You might be surprised at how spending small amounts on certain items can mount up over the year. You'll find many of the costs listed alphabetically from Banking to TV licences in Money Saving Ideas - just scroll down the list for detailed advice and tips on how to get the best value for money.
Balancing your budget
Once you have planned your budget, even if you have an overall surplus for the year, you still might see a deficit in certain months, when you will have to consider how to improve your cashflow, perhaps by temporarily increasing your interest-free overdraft or hours or work. A spreadsheet will allow you to adjust the figures at any time to reflect changes in your income and spending so it should be feasible to plan ahead for times when you might be short of money. The 'How to control your spending' section below has useful tips aimed at helping you make sure you don't overspend and stick to your budget.
Once you have planned your budget, if you predict you will have a slight shortfall in funding, you may be able to apply to the University Financial Assistance Fund (FAF) for a non-repayable grant to help top up your living costs. Please note that FAF is unable to help you pay tuition fees. For more information about applying for hardship funding, see the Advice and Counselling Service’s Postgraduate Funding advice guide.
Once you have planned your budget, if you predict you will have a large shortfall which you cannot meet in the short term, you may wish to consider options such as enrolling on a part-time course or deferring your place on your course until you have the necessary funding in place.
Here are some basic instructions to help you create your personal budget spreadsheet:
- To open your own version of the budget spreadsheet:
- If you are an undergraduate download the pre-popluated version which you can overtype: UG-Monthly-Budget-20-21.xlsx [XLS 24KB], or to access a blank spreadsheet download the https://www.welfare.qmul.ac.uk/media/advice-and-counselling-service/money/planning-a-budget-and-managing-money/UG-Blank-Monthly-Budget-20-21.xlsx
- If you are a postgraduate download the pre-popluated version you can overtype: PG-Monthly-Budget-20-21.xlsx [XLS 23KB] or, to access a blank spreadsheet download the https://www.welfare.qmul.ac.uk/media/advice-and-counselling-service/money/planning-a-budget-and-managing-money/PG--Blank--Monthly-Budget-20-21.xlsx
- Save the budget spreadsheet to your computer.
- Decide whether you are going to do a twelve, nine month or shorter budget. If you are returning home to live with your parents / family after exams have finished in the summer, you might not need to plan a twelve month budget. However, if you are intending to stay in London, or if you live independently, you will need to pay rent and bills over the summer, so doing a twelve month budget will help you to work out, for example, how many hours a week you need to work to afford your basic costs over summer.
- Unless you are confident using spreadsheets, to avoid potential formatting issues, do not delete any rows or columns, just retain these as £0.00.
- If you accidentally delete the formatting or cells, try copying from an adjacent cell or from the top of the page to the right of the box marked 'fx, or click on the ? icon in the top right hand side of your page to bring up Excel help.
- Hover over the red tabs to read the notes which will help you think about your income and your spending.
- You should be able to find details of your income from documents such as your student finance notification letters, payslips, benefit letters, bank statements or other financial documents.
- To work out your spending, see the ‘Money saving ideas’ section below for helpful advice on average spending on items such as food. If you are not sure how much you spend on certain items, try keeping a list of your total spending over a three week period and then dividing your totals by three to get the average weekly cost. Looking at recent bank statements might also help to give you an idea of your spending pattern. It is very important to adjust your budget to reflect your own spending, otherwise the budget won’t be accurate.
I don't like using spreadsheets - what can I do instead?
If you prefer not to use a spreadsheet, try an app which will allow you to track your spending on your phone or, consider keeping a weekly or monthly handwritten list of your income and spending in a notebook that you can check regularly for any changes in your spending. The Moneysavingexpert website lists apps, budget planners and tips to help you track your spending and maximise your income. The key is to try and find one which works for you.
Many digital-only banks such as Monzo or Starling now offer budgeting alongside their current accounts. The Moneytothemasses website has more information.
How did I do?
Once you have finished your budget, you might see certain periods where you will not have enough money to cover your basic costs. For advice about what you can do to manage any predicted shortfall in your funding, see the 'How to control your spending' section below for money saving tips and ideas about how you can increase your income. You may also find it useful to read the Advice and Counselling Service’s advice guides, ‘Additional Sources of Funding (for undergraduates) or ‘Postgraduate Funding’ (for postgraduates) which include information about applying for University hardship funding and the Advice and Counselling Service and the Career’s Service's ‘Part time and Vacation Work advice guide (for undergraduates and postgraduates) which explains the benefits of working part time as well as advice about income tax and national insurance
How to control your spending
Spending money is easy. Companies use clever marketing to encourage us to buy things we really don’t need and can’t afford. Often we then spend more money to make ourselves feel better. Once we have started doing this, we can get trapped in a vicious cycle where it seems easier to continue spending than to take control and stop. It is important to know that you can take control. This section lists some practical ideas you can use to help you take control and then stay in control of your money.
5 tips for taking control of your spending
1. Think about your attitude to money, and what it means to you. Think about why and when you spend money impulsively. Are you feeling a certain way? Are you buying things to fulfil your emotions? If you can identify particular patterns that lead to overspending, you may be able to prevent them, or to deal with them in another way
2. Try not to allow money to determine who you are. Try to disconnect money from your sense of self-worth. You will manage your money more effectively if what you do is based on how much money you have, rather than by what you want to do, regardless of the cost. Try not to let advertising persuade you into associating your quality of life with how many things you have. And try not to give in to peer pressure and worry about keeping up with other student’s spending habits or lifestyles
3. Allow yourself occasional treats. Plan for this in your budget planner, spreadsheet or app. Having a set amount to spend on treats is likely to make you think carefully about how you spend it, and to avoid impulse buys which you may later regret
4. If you find that you have difficulties with your relationship with money, try speaking to a Counsellor in the Advice and Counselling Service. Often there are tips and techniques that can help you to manage your thoughts and behaviour relating to issues you find difficult
5. If you are struggling to repay debts, see the Dealing with Debt section of the Advice and Counselling Service website
10 tips for staying in control of your spending
Here are some practical ideas to help you stay in control of your spending. In the 'Money saving ideas' section below there is more detailed information about money saving tips and discounts for specific types of spending e.g. food shopping, utilities bills, clothes, etc to help you keep your costs as low as possible and get the best value for your money.
1. Use cash. If you use a debit or credit card, you can’t see how much you are really spending. If you use cash, you can’t subconsciously spend more than you can afford – when it’s gone, it’s gone. Studies show that most people are much less willing to buy or spend as much when paying cash
2. Add up little things you spend money on regularly into annual amounts, to see how much they are costing you. For example, if you buy a coffee every day for £2.50 over a whole year, you would spend £912.50. See how much money you could save by reducing some of your small spending
3. When you see something that you think you want to buy, stop and ask yourself these questions: Do I need it? Will I use it? If I really need it, can I afford it? Is it worth the price? If the answer to any of these questions is no, don’t buy it!
4. Don’t feel pressured to buy something when you are in a shop; you have the right to walk away
5. Understand the difference between wanting something and needing something. Make a list of things that you buy regularly and then separate them into wants and needs. Be honest! Doing this can help you to make more informed decisions about how you spend your money
6. When you see something that you want to buy, sleep on it. See if you want it as much when you wake up the next morning. This will help you to avoid impulse spending. Or make a 30 day list – when you think you want something, write it on a list. Check back in 30 days and decide whether you still want it now
7. Think about a potential purchase in terms of hours of work, rather than £’s. For example, if you want something that costs £150, it would take you around 25 hours of work on the national minimum wage to pay for this
8. Keep a written record of all the money you spend to help you stay within your spending limits. Try using a mobile phone application such as the Spendometer which makes it easy for you to record your spending and to set limits.
9. If there is something that you really need, always make sure you get the best value for your money (see the 'Money saving ideas' section below). Check whether you could get it somewhere cheaper, or even for free. For example, if you like to read a newspaper every day, try reading it online sometimes or in a library
10. Think about the longer term, not just about now. If you keep buying more things than you can afford, you are likely to end up with significant debt, which could have serious consequences for years ahead. A bad credit rating will affect your access to credit in the future, for example, getting a mortgage
For lots more ways of stopping spending see MoneySavingExpert.com's Stop Spending webpages.
Here is some advice to help you budget across a range of areas listed below, especially if you are new to London or living away from home for the first time. You can find information on how to get the best value for money, where to find discounts and average spending guides for common items we list below in alphabetical order.
As you will see from the information below there is now a huge amount of advice about saving money you can find online such as on the Moneysavingexpert.com website which allows you to research options across different areas like banking, budgeting and bills. There are also student specific websites such as savethestudent.org.which run features on lots of money-related topics such as money saving apps and an annual student money survey which is usually published at the end of the academic year.
- Bills: electricity, gas and water
- Books and Equipment
- Council Tax
- Discounts – TOTUM and money saving websites
- Field Trips and course related activities
- Food – at home and at university
- Health costs
- Mobile phone
- Socialising and Entertainment
- Travel in and out of London
- Tuition Fees
- TV licence
If you do not want to read everything in one go, just choose the sections which you need most help with now. It is a good idea to review the list regularly to refresh your memory or to read the sections you missed the first time around.
Most banks offer home undergraduates and some EU undergraduates a student bank account with no monthly fee and an interest free overdraft facility. Moneysavingexpert and Save The Student have useful guides to student banking including the best student bank accounts, the best student savings accounts and a guide to your credit rating.
You usually need to have lived in the UK for three years before the start of your course to be considered for a bank account with an interest free overdraft. This can be a useful source of income, especially at certain times of the year when ‘cash flow’ problems are common for students, for example when you are waiting for the next instalment of your student income. Some banks, but not all, offer a student account to postgraduate students.
If you are a graduate returning to study, some banks are now offering graduate accounts which have similar terms and conditions to undergraduate accounts. The Moneysaving expert website has a comparison of different graduate accounts.
Many digital-only banks such as Monzo or Starling now offer budgeting alongside their current accounts. The Moneytothemasses website has more information.
If you are new to the UK and want to open a bank account, see the Advice and Counselling Service website for information on Banking in the UK.
Here are 10 tips about banking that all students might find useful:
- Some bank accounts charge a fee for running the account but there are many accounts which are free. When choosing an account, think about whether any fee is worth the extra benefits offered by the bank, or whether you would be better to get an account which doesn’t charge a fee
- Try to avoid using credit cards. The interest rates can be very high, and it can become difficult to afford the monthly repayment amounts. However, if you are sure that you would be able to pay the total balance in full every month, you should be able to avoid interest charges. For more detailed information on the risks and benefits associated with credit cards and for a comparison of student credit cards please see Save the Student’s guide to the best student credit cards
- Only use cash machines that offer free withdrawals. A machine should warn you if there is a charge. Some accounts, such as basic bank accounts, may charge you to withdraw money from other banks. Check your terms and conditions to make sure yours does not
- If you tend to spend money impulsively, try only using cash and leaving your debit card at home. At the beginning of the week only withdraw the money you can afford to spend according to your budget plan. Once this money is spent, do not withdraw any more money until the start of the next week
- Think about having different bank accounts for different purposes and moving money between them at set times, to help you manage your money, avoid overspending and earn a bit of interest.
- Check your bank statements regularly to monitor your spending and also to check for any fraudulent transactions through your account: you should report these to your bank immediately
- Set up online banking so you can check your money regularly and set up direct debits to make transfers and bill payments. This is often cheaper than getting paper bills. Make sure you protect yourself from online banking fraud
- Most banks can text you every week to let you know the balance of your account as well as all the individual transactions you have made over the previous seven day period. This allows you to check your account instantly without needing to log onto a computer.
- If you are struggling to repay debts, see the 'Dealing with Debts' section of our website.
- If you need help with banking and cannot find the answer above, contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service
If bills are not included in your rent, allow up to £15 per person per week for all utilities bills if you are sharing privately rented accommodation with a group of people. The amount you pay will vary depending on how many people you share with, how many rooms there are, how large the accommodation is, how energy efficient the accommodation is and the individual preferences and lifestyles of your flatmates. Make sure that the names of all the tenants are on each bill, so you share liability for payment.
Some money saving tips:
Reduce your bills by saving energy, for example using low energy light bulbs, switching off lights and appliances when you leave a room, not leaving electrical appliances on standby, turning down the heating thermostat, cooking more than you need and freezing the rest for later, cooking one meal for all your housemates instead
instead of several individual ones and only heating the amount of water you need in the kettle. See http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Take-action/Start-saving-money for the full list of tips
Pay by monthly direct debit (You pay a fixed estimate each month, and any overpayment should be refunded at the end of the year or carried forward to the next payment period. If you have underpaid, you would have to pay the extra amount owed). It is estimated that you can save 5-10% by paying this way, rather than by a quarterly paper bill
If you choose to receive bills instead of paying by direct debit, whenever you are sent a bill for gas and electricity, take a meter reading or set up text messaging so you can be sent a text reminding you to submit a meter reading at regular intervals. Do not rely on the energy provider’s estimate of your usage. If you are paying by direct debit and you think your monthly payment is much higher than your actual usage, ask the company to change it
Don’t assume that getting your gas and electricity from the same supplier will always be the cheapest option for you – compare the ‘dual fuel’ rates to the cheapest tariffs for buying your gas and electricity from different suppliers
- To a cheaper energy provider (check with your landlord first) by comparing prices to help you work out if you could get a better deal by switching to an energy provider’s internet tariff. You would be billed online, but internet tariffs are approximately 10% cheaper than standard tariffs
- To a fixed tariff where the rate is fixed for a set time especially if you are on a very tight budget and need the security of knowing your fuel bills won’t rise (as long as your usage stays the same). As you are normally locked in for a set period of time, if you want to switch supplier during that time, you would usually have to pay a penalty fee. This is especially important to remember if you are only staying in your accommodation for a short time. Remember that if fuel prices fall, you will lose money by being on a fixed tariff
- To a special cheaper tariff which some companies offer to customers who they deem to be in financial hardship. The eligibility criteria will vary between companies but might for example include customers who get certain welfare benefits or tax credits. However, these might still be more expensive than an internet tariff
- If you are on a prepayment meter, check with your energy provider if the tariff is higher than if you were billed. If it is, consider asking your landlord if they will allow you to move off the prepayment meter – energy providers can usually do this free of charge
- Consider registering for Money Saving Expert’s Cheap Energy Club or lookaftermybills.com which will do all the work for you - check to see if you are on the cheapest tariff, monitor your tariff and alert you when it’s time to switch again
If you have a personal computer, iPad or digital reader such as a Kindle, you can download academic e-books and e-journals for free from QMUL library as well as borrowing printed versions.
If you prefer printed books, you may need to spend £300 - £500 a year on books and study related equipment, depending on your course, especially on some programmes e.g. Law, where the cost of books can be high. Get an estimate from your Academic School and remember that not all the books on your reading list are essential. Asking your academic school and/or students in the year above you which books are essential for you to buy and which you can borrow, buy secondhand or
not need at all. The Save The Student website has a section on discounted books for students. You can also check book comparison sites such as www.BookCascade.co.uk, www.booksprice.co.uk, AbeBooks.co.uk for the cheapest books.
Using the QMUL Library book reservation system is a good way to avoid buying books that you might only use once or twice or borrowing books you are considering buying but are not sure you want to.
You can buy and sell used books online at www.amazon.co.uk. You can also buy and sell used books at the bookshop on the Mile End campus.
Also think about sharing books with a friend so you can split the costs and the profits if you re-sell them.
Good quality childcare is usually expensive. Starting rates are around £200- £350 a week for a full time registered childminder or nursery place for one child but this may be subsidised by the government, if you or your partner are working and/or in receipt of welfare benefits, which might help you reduce your childcare costs. Check what is being offered by your childcare provider as well as your eligibility for any reduction in fees. Read the Advice and Counselling Service advice guide 'Childcare' and see the Family and Childcare Trust webpage to help you understand your options.
Full-time undergraduate students can get information about financial help with childcare costs in the Advice and Counselling Service advice guides, Undergraduate Funding: 2016 onwards starters and Funding for Medical and Dental students.
There is detailed advice and information about student finance and welfare benefits for students with children on our 'Students with children' webpage.
If you are an international student, you may find that you need to buy clothes or shoes that are suitable for the climate in the UK. If so, you should expect to spend £400 or more. Prices for clothes and shoes vary according to which shops you use. Some high street clothes shops can be very cheap and many larger supermarkets sell clothes very cheaply.
Several shops offer a discount to students who have an TOTUM card.
The ‘Fashion’ section of the Save The Student website allows you to type in the name of the store to access discounts. You can buy clothes cheaply at some markets such as Petticoat Lane near Whitechapel. There are many charity shops in London which have cheap second hand clothes. Type in your postcode to find the nearest charity shops to where you live. You can find new and second hand clothes on www.ebay.co.uk. Clothes swapping, sometimes called swishing, is becoming very popular. Organise a party with your friends, or go to a larger event. Another popular way of saving money on buying clothes is ‘upcycling’ your existing ones.
Full-time students are usually exempt from paying Council Tax, but you must provide your Local Authority with proof of your student status. Queen Mary automoatically sends notifications to some London boroughs that you are a full-time student. These are currently Tower Hamlets, Newham, Redbridge and Waltham Forest. However you may still need to fill out a student disregard form. Students who live in other boroughs will need to download a Student status letter and, depending on which borough you live in, you may also need to fill out a student disregard form. See the Advice and Counselling Service advice guide Council Tax for more detailed information.
You can apply for a TOTUM card. This costs £14.99 for one year or £24.99 for 3 years and gives you access to lots of discounts on a wide variety of goods and services such as shops, restaurants, cinemas and travel. This now includes an International Students Identity Card (ISIC), which offers discounts worldwide.
Save The Student
The Save the Student website offers lots of advice to students including information on deals and discounts. If you subscribe to the site, they will email you all the latest offers.
Money saving websites
www.moneysavingexpert.com, https://www.comparethemarket.com/ and www.moneysupermarket.com give general money saving tips, product price comparisons, discount vouchers and financial product comparisons (insurance policies, bank accounts, mobile phone deals, etc). Www.pricecutreview.com/UK/ lists a number of Amazon products at half price or less. Many of these sites such as http://www.pricerunner.co.uk/iphone/info.html have mobile phone apps you can download to receive the latest offers.
Others have blogs, Twitter and Facebook accounts you can follow. Once you have had a good look at all the information, try to identify a small number of sites you are most interested in and only look at these. This will help you to avoid being overwhelmed and wasting time reading information which may not be relevant to you.
Ask your Academic School how many field trips or course related activities you will need to attend and how much they will cost. Plan this into your budget from the start of the academic year.
If you are a postgraduate student, you may be apply to apply for financial help towards study related costs. See our Postgraduate Funding advice guide for more information.
You can expect to spend at least £30 a week on food shopping. Some money saving tips:
- Takeaways can literally eat into your carefully planned budget if you have them too often. If you don't have time to cook, consider swapping a takeaway for a microwave or oven ready meal which just needs heating up and usually costs a fraction of the price. It is usually cheaper to shop at larger supermarkets or markets rather than smaller convenience stores or local supermarket branches
- Cook meals at home – ready meals and takeaways are more expensive than home cooked meals, and usually less healthy. www.studentcook.co.uk and http://studentrecipes.com/ have useful cooking tips for beginners, for eating healthily, for eating on a budget and recipe ideas
- Some supermarkets are known for being extremely cheap such as Aldi, Lidl and Netto. Even if you don’t want to buy all of your food shopping there, they can be great value for stocking up on basics like tinned and dried goods. Check online for the nearest store to where you live.
- there are also many ‘pound’ shops which offer a limited range of items from chocolate to tinned goods which can save you lots of money on basic items. At www.mysupermarket.co.uk you can compare the price of your shopping at different supermarkets, cut your bill within one supermarket, check for current special offers and shop online
- In most supermarkets there are often four versions of common products: premium brands (the supermarket’s own ‘luxury’ range, like Tesco Finest), the manufacturer’s range (like Heinz), the supermarket own brand, and then the supermarket ‘no frills’ brands like Tesco Value. Try dropping one level on the items you usually buy, to a lower brand, to see how much money you could save and whether you can notice any difference in taste or quality. You might be surprised to find there is little or no difference but you can always change back if you don’t like the lower brand. The Money Saving Expert website claims that doing this will cut the average food shopping bill by one third. Http://www.supermarketownbrandguide.co.uk/ has independent reviews of own brand products
- Supermarkets usually put the most profitable stock at customers’ eye level, but these are often not the best value for money. So look high and low on the shelves
- On a weekly basis, work out your budget, plan your meals and write a list of ingredients before you go shopping. This should help you avoid buying things you don’t need on impulse as well as buying more than you need which you cannot eat and will end up throwing away. Take a calculator with you to keep track of how much you are spending as you go around the shop or use a mobile phone application such as the Spendometer which allows you to record your spending and alerts you when you have reached your spending limit
- Try not to go shopping when you are hungry as you could be tempted to buy more than you need
- If you order your supermarket shopping online, the cost is added up as you go along so you are less likely to overspend or make impulse purchases. However there is usually a delivery charge unless you spend above a certain amount
- At the supermarket look out for ‘reduced for quick sale’ items. These are usually at their ‘sell by date’ or close to it. The biggest reductions are made in the evenings, usually from 5pm onwards, with bigger reductions from 7pm. The terms 'Display until' or 'sell by' often appear near or next to the 'best before' or 'use by' date. The NHS guidance explains these terms are used by some shops to help with stock control and are instructions for shop staff, not shoppers
- Don’t confuse ‘sell by’ with ‘use by’ dates. The guidance also explains that you shouldn’t use any food or drink after the ‘use by’ date as there will be a risk to your health. It also states that ‘Best before’ dates usually refer to quality and that food could lose flavour and texture and with the exception of eggs, would not be harmful to health if eaten after the ‘best before’ date
- Eat food that is in season as this is good value, especially in markets or at greengrocers
- If you share your accommodation, if you shop and eat as a group you can buy in bulk and take advantage of ‘buy one get one free’ deals to save money as well as saving on gas or electricity bills
- Many supermarkets, chemists and health food shops operate loyalty card schemes where you earn points when you shop, which you can later use to take money off your shopping bill. Ask in the store for details
- Use money off coupons. Some supermarkets will allow you to use a money off coupon for a specific product to save money on your whole shopping bill instead. Although they don’t have to, it can still be worth asking
Buying lunch, snacks and drinks on campus can easily cost you £5-£10 per day. This adds up to at least £750-£1,500 a year if you are on campus every day during term time, so try bringing a packed lunch and a drink from home. Even if you just do this some days, you will save money. Bring a water bottle with you and refill it during the day. The campus shops and local supermarkets often have ‘meal deals’ where you can buy a sandwich, snack and drink for lunch from a set range of products together at a lower price than if you bought them separately.
If you buy hot drinks, use loyalty stamp cards so once you have bought a certain number of drinks, you can get the next one free. Look out for ‘early bird’ discounts in coffee shops and restaurants which offer food and drinks at a reduced price if you buy them before a certain time. Check www.go2vouchercodes.co.uk for 2 for1 offers on coffee shops and restaurants in the local area and go with a friend. For more money saving ideas on food, see the Food and Drink Section of the Save the Student website.
You might feel under pressure to buy presents for friends and family at birthdays and religious holidays. Sometimes the best presents are homemade! Think about making a picture, a nice photo, a poem, sewing something or making something tasty for them to eat. Greetings cards can also be expensive and can easily be made by hand. Craftynest.com offers online tutorials of how to make your own gifts and the Save The Student Website also has a section on gift ideas.
If you really want to buy a present, think about getting together with mutual friends or family members and buying a joint present, as this can be cheaper.
An NHS prescription currently (September 2019) costs £9.15 per prescription. NHS dental charges are split into 3 bands with a check up costing £22.70.
You might get help with health costs like prescriptions and dental treatment through the NHS low income scheme. Students are not automatically entitled to help with these costs. Each claim is assessed individually, depending on the financial circumstances of the applicant.
To apply, use claim form HC1. Get this from a Jobcentre Plus office, NHS hospital, dentist, doctor or optician or order one online. For more information about whether you would qualify for help from the NHS low income scheme see: See http://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/HealthCosts/1125.aspx.
If you are eligible for the special suport element of the maintenance loan, usually because you have children or a disabiltiy, it is ignored as income when calculating health with health costs. For information on who is eligible for the special support elelment of the maintenance loan, please see our undergraduate student finance advice guides. If your income is too high to qualify for free prescriptions and you have to pay for more than three prescription items in three months or thirteen items in twelve months, you could save money with a Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC). You can pay for the twelve months PPC by direct debit over ten months.
We strongly advise you to make sure that you are covered by an insurance policy against damage, loss or theft of your personal possessions. Insurance is not expensive and it is far better to insure your belongings in the first place, rather than find that you can’t afford to replace them if they are lost, stolen or damaged.
If you are moving to university from living with your parents many insurers will cover your possessions under the ‘contents away from home’ section of your parent(s’ household policy for a small amount or money, or sometimes at no extra cost. Your parents should contact their insurers to check. Make sure that the individual item limits in your parents’ policy are high enough to replace expensive equipment, and if not, they will need to increase the cover. If you are an international student, it is unlikely you will be covered by your parents’ insurance so you would need to take out your own policy.
If you rent a room in Queen Mary halls, the possessions in your room are automatically insured through Endsleigh insurance up to the value of £4000, but there are specific limits for certain items. This information is in the Residents Handbook.
Check the policy wording carefully as you may need to take out extra cover if the basic package will not cover the replacement costs of all your belongings.
If you are not living in Queen Mary halls, you are advised to take out your own insurance policy. Endsleigh Insurance Company has policies specifically designed for students. E&L is another company which offers insurance for students.
Queen Mary Halls
Queen Mary Residents Handbook explains that Most Queen Mary university residences have wireless internet (wifi) included in the price of your rent except for the student houses where wifi is available at an additional charge.
If your hall of residence does not have wifi, you could consider paying for a broadband package with the other students in your flat, or getting your own contract. Housing Services can advise you about this.
Privately Rented Accommodation
Unless your landlord has included broadband in your rent, you will need to pay for this. There are several different comparison websites you could check such as http://www.moneysupermarket.com/broadband/, http://www.choose.net/media/guide/features/student-broadband.html, www.cable.co.uk.
Remember to think about the length of your tenancy compared with the length of the broadband contract, whether you need a phone line included, the coverage for your postcode, what you will use it for e.g. only for emailing or also watching TV online, the download speed and the monthly usage allowance.
Shop around for the best mobile phone deal that suits your needs. If you rarely make calls from your phone and use it more for texting or receiving calls, consider ‘pay as you go’. This way you are not tied into an expensive contract, there are no bills, and you can control how much you spend. If you need to make a lot of calls, a contract is likely to offer better value for money. This usually includes a set amount of included calls and texts (and data if you have a smartphone), but you are normally locked into the contract for 12 or 24 months. For advice on choosing the right mobile phone deal see the Advice and Counselling Service online guide.
To compare deals and offers so you can decide which is the best contract for you, have a look at http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/phones/mobile-phone-cost-cutting, www.cable.co.uk, http://www.savethestudent.org/mobile-phone-student-deals.
Calling from the UK to overseas countries
There is a page on the Advice and Counselling Service website called ‘Contacting home’. This contains detailed information on some of the different ways of contacting friends and family overseas, and which are the cheapest.
Mobile phone alternatives
Whether you are calling another UK number or an overseas one, if you like to stay in regular contact with your family and friends, depending on what kind of phone/computer you have, there are a range of options including Skype, Facetime, and Google hangout as well as Whatsapp which could save you money on making calls.
Premium rate phone numbers
Some numbers are designed to be cheap to call from a landline, like those starting with 0845, 0870, 0800. However, these are usually expensive to call from your mobile, and if you are on a contract, most of these numbers are excluded from your free minutes. Www.saynoto0870.com lets you search for the equivalent geographical number and there is more information on 08 numbers on Save The Student’s webpage.
How much you spend on photocopying will depend on your programme of study, and the time of year. For example, this cost is likely to be higher when you are submitting coursework or preparing for exams or final year projects. You can ask your academic school for an estimate of how much photocopying you will need to do. For information on photocopying/printing charges see the IT Services webpage. You first need to set up an iPay account, an integrated system which will enable you to photocopy, print and pay library fines centrally.
Queen Mary Residences
Unless you are going to be living with family during your studies, rent is likely to be your biggest cost. Queen Mary University halls cost upwards of £150 per week and rent for them is paid termly in advance. Your rental liability is calculated on a per day basis based on the number days in the term. This usually means you will be invoiced for two larger and one smaller instalment, as there are less weeks in the exam term compared with the number of weeks in Semester A and B. However, Housing Services encourage you to contact them and request your rent payment is split into three equal amounts to help you manage your finances better.
Your rent includes bills and cleaning, but you must also buy a TV licence if you have a TV in your room (there is a later section about TV licensing). You might also need to pay for internet access (see earlier section on Internet). You will need to provide your own bed linen, towels, crockery, cutlery and cooking utensils, so if you do not already have these you will need to factor the cost into your budget. You can buy a bedding pack from Housing Services or shop around at local large supermarkets, called Superstores e.g. Sainsbury’s at Whitechapel or Asda at the Isle of Dogs.
You will also have to pay a deposit of £300, which you will get back when you move out as long as no damage has been done to the property. If you live in university residences and will move into privately rented accommodation next year, remember that you pay your deposit in advance (see below), so it will come out of your current year’s funding. Include the deposit in your budget from the start of the year. For more information on university residences, you might find it useful to read Housing Services’ Student Accommodation guide and the Residents’ Handbook: http://bit.ly/P9rC00. You might also find it useful to read QMUL Accommodation FAQs.
Privately rented accommodation
The cost of privately rented accommodation varies greatly, depending on the area you live in and how many people you share with. See the price guide on the last page of the Queen Mary Private Sector Accommodation Housing Guide which lists minimum weekly rents for the main letting areas in east London and Docklands. If you don’t intend living locally, The London Rents Map can provide a useful overview of average rents by postcode.
The average cost of a room in a shared house in the Mile End area is around £700 pcm. Bills would usually cost extra. It might be cheaper to rent further east than Mile End, but remember to include the cost of travelling to university (see the Travel section below). Deposits in private accommodation are usually the equivalent of one month’s rent, or sometimes two months’. Increasingly landlords are asking tenants to provide a UK based guarantor, who would be legally responsible for paying your rent if you fail to do so. If you don’t have a UK based guarantor, some landlords will require you to pay several months’ rent at the start of the tenancy (usually between three and six months) or you could consider contacting Housing Hand, an organisation which may be able to act as a guarantor for you.
For general private sector housing advice see Queen Mary Housing Services' webpage, which includes short videos that explain how and when to start looking, inspecting a property, tenancy agreements, deposits and tenancy deposits schemes and repair issues.
The University of London Accommodation Office’s ‘London student housing guide’ has a helpful ‘find a flatmate’ section as well as advice on dealing with problems. You may also find it useful to read the Advice and Counselling Service’s housing information webpages ‘Finding Accommodation,’ ‘Tenancy Deposits’ and ‘Housing Advice’.
Live in’ jobs
One way of renting cheaply could be to do a ‘live in’ job such as a nanny or au pair where you are provided with accommodation free of charge in return for work you carry out, usually in the accommodation. You can find many online agencies which specialise in au pair and nanny jobs. You would need to carefully research any employment offered and always check the terms and conditions eg. hours, pay, holiday entitlement before signing a contract of employment.
One way of renting cheaply could be to share accommodation with an older homeowner such as the Homeshare Scheme. In return for your own room and a much reduced rent, you would be expected to perform 10 hours per week light cleaning and shopping duties.
The Griffin Community Trust offers reasonably priced accommodation to medical students who volunteer a certain number of hours per week to work with older people.
You might also consider becoming a property guardian where you pay a reduced rent or management fee in return for living in an empty property. You might also need to carry out basic maintenance of the property or other duties as a condition of living there. If you search online, there are many organisations running such schemes but with any accommodation, you would need to check the terms and conditions carefully before signing up.
Living at home/Outside of London
London rents can often be high, making it more and more challenging to afford the cost of living on a student income. Many Queen Mary University students have realised that it makes better financial sense for them to live at home/outside of London and commute into University on a daily basis. This is because paying higher travel costs can usually work out much cheaper overall than paying a high monthly rent and lower travel costs.
It is important to be realistic when you plan a budget. If you do not include an amount for social costs and entertainment, your budget is not likely to work. However, there are ways of reducing the amount of money you spend on socialising and entertainment:
- Arrange nights in with a group of friends and ask everyone to bring food and drinks If you are going out, plan ahead so you can take advantage of discounts, happy hours and promotions in bars and restaurants. There are specific student discounts at certain places, for example through the TOTUM card, as well as general discounts and special offers like two for one. Look online at websites such as http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/deals/cheap-restaurant-deals, http://www.opentable.co.uk/start/home, http://www.savethestudent.org/save-money/food-drink/eating-out-on-a-budget.html
- When you go out for a night, only take out the amount of cash you can afford to spend. Leave your debit card at home, so you can limit your spending and you aren’t tempted to withdraw more cash later in the night
- If you enjoy watching films, rent these out for free for a day from Queen Mary library. Check whether you can borrow them for longer from your local library. Alternatively split the cost with flatmates of downloading them on demand from your TV package provider or film club or split the cost of a subscription or streaming device such as a firestick.
- The Genesis cinema near Stepney Green generally costs less than west end cinemas.
- There are several websites such as The Londonforfree, Studentbeans and Time Out full of ideas of free and low cost activities in London, including walks, museums, galleries and parks.
- Joining some of the Queen Mary Students’ Union clubs and societies can be a low cost way of learning or developing skills and making friends.
There are many options for travelling in London depending on where you live, how often you need to travel and how much you want to spend. Use the single fare finder to find out the cost of any two journeys on the Underground, Overground and Docklands Light Railway.
If you are a new student, ask your academic school which site your teaching will take place at, so you can estimate what your travel costs will be.
Full time students can apply for an 18+ Student Oyster photocard. The registration fee is £25, and you must apply online as soon as you have enrolled.
If you are a part-time postgraduate who has received an award from Queen Mary's Financial Assistance Fund, you should also be eligible for an 18+ Student Oystercard.
The photocard is valid until the end of your course, as long as this is no more than three years. You must log onto your online account at the start of each academic year to confirm your continued eligibility and Queen Mary has to authorise your confirmation. If you fail to reconfirm, your card will stop giving you the 30% travel discount though you should still be able to use it and pay the standard adult rate. Your Oyster card can be used on the tube, trams, buses, Docklands Light Railway, London Overground and some national rail services in London.
If you need to travel regularly, you can buy student-rate travelcards and bus passes valid for 7 days, one month or one year, which cost 30% less than adult-rate season tickets. Travelcard prices depend on the number of zones you need to travel in. The Mile End campus is in zone 2 and the Medical and Dental school campuses are in zones 1 and 2.
You can also now take two bus or tram journeys within an hour of starting your journey for the price of one 'Hopper' fare.
If you live and study at the Mile End campus and you do not need to travel regularly you might decide that you do not need to buy a weekly or monthly travelcard. For single journeys, you can use a contactless debit card or if you don’t have one of these, you can still top up your Oyster card on a pay-as-you-go basis. The ticket price is cheaper when you pay by Oyster/contactless card and daily price capping automatically calculates the cheapest fare for the journeys you make in a single day. You can check student Oyster fares and daily fare caps here.
If you have a 16-25 Railcard discount (see below) take it to a Transport for London ticket office so it can be loaded on to your Oyster card and you will save 34% on Off-Peak journey fare caps.
If you are doing an apprenticeship, you can apply for an Apprentice extra card which gives you 30% discount and, like the 18+ Oystercard, can be loaded onto your Apprentice card to provide a 34% discount on off-peak and pay as you go fares.
Using a contactless debit card to pay for single journeys is easy. You just swipe your card against the reader at the entrance to underground ticket gates or on buses. If you don’t have a contactless card and need to buy a standard Oyster card, you can put money on this via the machines or ticket offices in tube stations, or via an online account. When you first get your Oyster card, you will need to pay a £5 deposit if you are only adding cash to pay-as-you-go. Oyster pay-as-you-go works in the same way for standard Oyster cards and 18+ Student Oyster photocards.
It’s a good idea to register your Oystercard so that if it is lost or stolen, you can cancel the card and/or get a refund or the balance transferred to a new card. TFL has introduced a TFL contactless and Oyster app which enables users to top up credit and keep track of spending - however app has not yet been configured for 18+ Oyster card users.
When travelling on the tube, Docklands Light Railway and London Overground services, you must always touch in on a yellow reader at the start and touch out at the end of every journey. When travelling on buses and trams, you must always touch in on a yellow reader at the start of every journey. If you do not, you may be liable for a penalty fare or prosecution. If you travel around, rather than through, zone 1 you may be charged a cheaper fare if you touch a purple reader when you change trains, to show that you did not go through zone 1.
As it can be complicated to understand your options, call 0343 222 1234 to speak to an adviser on TFL's helpline or refer to TFL's Help and Contacts page.
Consider walking or cycling to save money on travel. There is lots of online information on cycling in London, including the Santander cycle hire scheme, route planners, downloadable maps and safe cycling tips as well as maps, cycle safety and maintenance, and details of organised group bike rides at www.lcc.org.uk/
You might like to join Queen Mary University Cyclists Group which has over 200 members and organises many activities and events. See Queen Mary's cycling webpage for more details
Outside of London
Booking train tickets in advance is usually cheaper than buying them on the day you travel. Use national rail enquiries to plan your journey and search for tickets. If you search by destination and date, you will be re-directed to the train operator’s site which runs the trains in the area you wish to travel to.
You can book your ticket up to three months in advance and the sooner you book, the cheaper your ticket will be. Booking online is usually cheaper than booking at a train station or over the telephone. In addition to local train operators, there are several companies which advertise cheap tickets such as thetrainline, redspottedhanky and megabus but some charge booking fees which might work out more expensive than booking through a train operator so always check you are getting the best deal.
A 16-25 Railcard gives you a 1/3 discount off rail fares on the national rail network throughout Great Britain, although there are some restrictions about when you can travel. The railcard costs £30 a year or £70 for 3 years. You can buy the 3 year one up until the day before your 24th birthday. You can apply if you are aged 16-25 (you can apply online or at a rail station ticket office), or aged over 25 and in full-time education (you can only apply at a rail station ticket office).
You can also get your 16-25 Railcard discount loaded on to your Oyster card to save 34% on Off-Peak journey fare caps.
16-25 Railcards are normally only available for full-time postgraduate students. However, if you are a part-time postgraduate student who has been awarded financial assistance from the Queen Mary University Financial Assistance Fund (FAF), you can apply for a railcard. Your financial award letter explains what you need to do.
Bus (coach) travel is often the cheapest option for travel outside London. The Young Person’s Coachcard is for everyone aged 16-26 and all full time students. It costs £12.50 a year or £30 for three years and saves you up to 30% on many National Express coach journeys (restrictions apply). For more information see:
You can buy low cost coach tickets at www.megabus.com/uk.
Home and EU students
If you are a new home or EU undergraduate student in 2020/21, your tuition fees will normally be £9,250. You may be eligible for a UK government Student Finance Tuition Fee Loan or, if you are a medical or dental student, an NHS tuition fee grant to pay your fees.
For postgraduate home/EU students, the tuition fee will vary depending on your course and your mode of study. Please check with your academic school or the fees office, or see The Advice and Counselling Service.
For more information, see the funding and money section of the Advice and Counselling Service funding advice guides.
For fee payment options see the relevant sections of Queen Mary tuition fee regulations.
For all international students (undergraduate and postgraduate), the tuition fee will vary depending on your programme. Please check with your academic school or the fees office, or online at.
You need to be covered by a valid TV Licence if you watch or record TV as it is being broadcast. This includes the use of devices such as a computer, laptop, mobile phone or DVD/video recorder. A colour TV licence currently costs £157.50 a year. You need to be covered by a TV Licence to watch or record live TV programmes on any channel, or download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer. This could be on any device, including a TV, desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, games console, digital box or DVD/VHS recorder. If you do any of the above without a valid licence, you risk prosecution and a maximum penalty of up to £1,000, plus any legal costs and/or compensation you may be ordered to pay. You will also still have to buy a TV Licence if you need one. To find out more, go to tvlicensing.co.uk/studentinfo
How can I buy a TV Licence?
There are lots of different ways to buy a TV Licence. Whether that’s through weekly cash payments, using your nearest PayPoint outlet, spreading the cost with monthly, quarterly or yearly direct debit, credit/debit card or by post – just choose the one that suits you best.
For more information on the ways to pay, go to tvlicensing.co.uk/payinfo
If I live in halls, won’t I already be covered by a TV Licence?
Your room needs to be covered by its own licence if you're plugged in to watch or record programmes as they're being shown on TV or live on an online TV service, or if you download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer. If there are TVs in communal areas, check with your halls' manager to see if they’re covered by a halls' licence.
What if I live in a shared house?
You'll probably only need one licence between you if you have a joint tenancy agreement for the whole house – this is the most common type of shared house arrangement. You might need your own licence if your accommodation is self-contained. That means you have exclusive access to washing facilities, or your own entrance to the property. You will also need your own licence if you have a separate tenancy agreement for your own room.
Won't my parents' licence cover me?
Your parents' licence will not cover you while you're away at uni unless you only use a device that's powered solely by its own internal batteries and not connected to the mains.
What if I'm not at uni for the summer?
If you're leaving your halls or rented accommodation and moving back home for the summer, there's a good chance you won't need your TV Licence if there's one at home. You can see our policy and apply for a refund online.
What if I don’t need a licence?
If you don’t need a TV Licence, we would ask you to let TV Licensing know so that they can update their details. They won’t then send you any letters for approximately two years.
You can contact a Welfare Adviser at any stage in your course, or before you enrol, to check that you are getting all of the income you are entitled to. Don't feel that you have to have a problem to see a Welfare Adviser: a lot of our work is aimed at helping students to budget and avoid their finances becoming a problem at all, though as SavetheStudent's latest Student Money Survey indicates, many students are worried about money. If you feel that financial issues are impacting on your health and wellbeing, see our 'Mental health and financial issues' webpage for advice about your options.
If you are already in debt, see our 'Dealing with debt' webpage for steps you can take to try and resolve your financial issues. You can also contact a Welfare Adviser to discuss your particular financial cirucmstances if you have any concerns about managing your money.
We welcome enquiries from prospective students who are planning their finances as well as from current students.