Uni Life

Understanding College Costs: Living Expenses Broken Down

No matter where you go to College, it’s expensive. There’s just no way around it, unfortunately. Living on your own for the first time is hard enough, but learning to deal with costs and money is just confusing, so here’s how you can understand College Costs: Living Expenses Broken Down.

Course Materials

Sounds obvious and not major but you would be surprised. We’re all given endless lists of textbooks to use throughout the year (and will never actually use them). It comes to a lot of money.

Buy second hand!! Look for the cheapest options out there. There’s literally no point getting brand-spanking new books that will sit looking pretty on your shelf, acting as perfect dust collectors.

Obviously, you might be more responsible than me and actually use your course materials like the good student we all strive to be (kind of).


Another thing we probably forget to take into account. Buses, trains, Ubers (when you’re feeling boujee after a night out of drinking), petrol money… it all costs, and does add up.

Living in Brighton, I’m lucky and can walk most places (so this might be something to consider when you’re choosing your uni) but sometimes getting the bus is the only option.

Solution: Buy annual tickets! Trust me, you’ll use it more than you think, and while it does break the bank initially (ugh) you won’t have to worry about it for the rest of the year. And you won’t cry every time you have to get the bus and pay for a ticket.


This is the big one. Where most of the money goes.

We all want to live somewhere nice (goes without saying). But as students this is probably not going to happen, unless you hit the jackpot (fingers crossed). All i can say is: lower your expectations (and enjoy on-campus accommodation for as long as you can because the harsh realities of the real world will come crashing down on you soon… not to sound cynical).

Existing is expensive.

Utility Bills

Just when you think you’re living costs are sorted, nope. Utility bills come next.

Some of us are lucky and these might be included in your rent. But for the rest of us, this additional cost is bloody annoying and so easy to forget to pay (and to remember your shower can’t be a fully rehearsed concert with an encore… more like the opening act).

See Also

Choose a lucky member of your house group (preferably someone responsible… the mum or dad of the house) to get a standing-order going, then the rest of you pay this unfortunate soul. You might be more inclined to pay your friend than bills. (I’d hope).


Oh yes. An essential. Kind of need this to survive. All I can say is to avoid brands and go for the basics.

This was definitely a learning curve for me, wanting the nice branded products for a taste of home was something I struggled to maintain. Trust me, with practice you’ll become ruthless and cheap food shopping will become a breeze. With time.


An annoying essential. The longer you do the whole ‘student thing’ the more frustrated you become when it’s time to top up on shampoo or body wash.

You’ll ditch the nice-smelling brands and go for the cheapest option possible and question whether it’s actually doing anything. I don’t think it is.


The fun side (yay) but also expensive (not- yay). Trying to do something with all your friends when you all have money to spend at the same time is near damn impossible. Choosing whether to eat or go clubbing becomes a serious deliberation in your mind.

Long story short, college is pricy. But so is life (as we’ve all come to realise. Hopefully this guide for Understanding College Costs: Living Expenses Broken Down is helpful. (“we’re all in this together”).

Featured Image Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/rItGZ4vquWk
Abby Oldroyd

Hello! I am a third year student at The University of Sussex studying Media and English Literature, living in Brighton!

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