How to save money on your degree

While you might want to enjoy the student lifestyle of beans on toast, traffic light parties and student discounts, the eye-wateringly expensive university fees are enough to challenge your commitment to higher education. Fear not, as we show you how to get a degree without getting yourself into a massive pile of debt.

Man sits at coffee table doing homework.

Staying with family or close friends

Uni fees aren’t cheap, and one of the quickest ways to cut costs is to not pay for living independently. Almost a quarter of students are choosing to delay fleeing the nest, staying at home and commuting to a local uni until they’ve got their BA under their armpit.

Things to consider:

  • Degrees are hard, and being looked after will certainly make life easier. That, and the cooked meals and laundry service.
  • Absolutely EVERYBODY will ask you, “Don’t you think you’re missing out on, you know, the whole, university experience?”
  • It might put a strain on your family’s finances to keep you fed and watered for a few more years.
  • Learning to live by yourself is a very important thing to do.
  • It’ll be harder to organise parties/come in late.

Read this article on how to live with your parents for some survival tips

Part-time degrees

It may take a bit longer, but choosing to do your degree part-time means you can work around your studies, making it a more affordable option. Lots of top universities offer part-time options, with evening lectures and seminars so you don’t have to miss work.

Things to consider:

  • You’ll be getting real work experience alongside an academic qualification.
  • You can earn money as you go, getting yourself into less debt.
  • Your company may even offer to pay some of your degree costs, if they’re nice like that.
  • It will take longer to finish your degree, at least four years.
  • You’ll probably have to use a lot of your allocated annual leave to revise or go to exams.
  • The friends on your course are likely to be older than you, rather than other 18-year-olds.

Online degrees

You can bag a degree without even leaving your room. Like, ever. Though we do suggest you go out occasionally for food and stuff. Lots of places now offer online degrees, where you’re sent virtual learning guides and can live-chat with your personal tutor online.

Things to consider:

  • You don’t have to spend money on student accommodation.
  • You can do it around a full-time job.
  • Great if you’re shy and don’t like the idea of sitting in a packed lecture hall.
  • It’s hard to work out which courses are taken seriously, both academically and by future employers.
  • Potential employers may worry you’ve not learnt any social skills if you chose to study online.
  • Some people learn easier if there’s actual real-life human teachers talking to their face, you might be one of them, and may find it hard to be motivated.

Study abroad

With the caveat that no one knows how the UK leaving the EU will affect your opportunity to work and study abroad – loads of European countries like Austria, Finland, Sweden and Germany offer free degrees. Other countries like France and the Netherlands still offer much cheaper tuition fees than England.

Things to consider:

  • The biggy: You can’t get a UK student loan or maintenance grant for an international degree, so you’ll have to pay for food/accommodation/books all upfront.
  • You get to bag a degree in an exotic country and have loads of different life experiences.
  • Degrees in European countries are usually very high quality.
  • If you get homesick, it’s a long way to come home.
  • It takes longer to complete international degrees, they tend to be four years rather than three.
  • You might not be studying in English, so unless you’re bilingual you’ll be coping with learning your subject AND another language. Of course, if you’ve got an ear for languages then you’ll be gaining another skill in no time.

If you’re Scottish stay put!

Residents of Scotland still get FREE degrees. So, if you’re Scottish, and you want to save money on your degree, stay exactly where you are.

Things to consider:

  • FREE degree
  • You get to stay near-ish home
  • If you really want to study elsewhere in the UK, it will cost you about £27,000 in fees – sometimes making you feel forced to stay put
  • Being limited to just Scottish universities could limit the variety of courses to choose from

More information

  • The Student Room is the largest student community in the world with a range of online resources to help you get through university.
  • Go to Money Advice Service for free and impartial money advice.