Managing on a student income can be hard - the trick is to plan and budget!

A budget contains all your income and your expected expenditure for a specific period of time - it could be weekly, monthly or maybe a termly basis. Having a budget can help you manage your spending by encouraging you to set aside the money you need to cover essentials like rent, whilst showing you the amount you have leftover to spend on other things on a day-to-day basis. 

National Debtline has a good financial guide for students and you can read the latest Student Money Matters magazine online, which includes advice about Student Finance and how to save money.

There are some great online budget calculators that can help you plan your budget and play around with it to see what you might be able to change if your expenditure is too high.

National Debtline -   you can also print out the budget sheet and you can speak to one of their advisers for free.

Money Advice Service - they also offer a free money advice service.

You can also download our budget calculator, which includes some more student-centred categories!

If you're claiming Student Finance, make sure you're getting your full entitlement. Most students are classed as dependent on their parents, so get your parents fill in an income assessment to potentially increase your maintenance loan. If you have any dependants of your own such as children you may be able to claim Parents' Learning Allowance, Childcare Grant, or Adult Dependants' Grant.  

The most common way for students to get more income is through a part-time job. The University has a jobs database that can help you find jobs on campus and in the local area.

Most full-time students are not able to claim benefits but there are some exceptions, mostly for parents and those with disabilities. You can read more on our Benefits page.

We also have information about further financial support available to parents and to disabled students on their respective pages.

There are a few bursaries and scholarships available through the university, depending on your circumstances and subject. This page has a link to university funds. There are also some bursaries and scholarships for international students. Some charities and organisations offer grants and scholarships. Eligibility for grants, bursaries and scholarships can depend upon if you are a home or international student, in full or part-time study or if you are an undergraduate or postgraduate so check guidance carefully. You can read more on our Charities and Grants page.

The Student Money Manual has a wealth of information about income and what costs you can expect as a student. Sites like Moneysavingexpert also have many great tips and deals but here are some of the most useful ones for students!



Cooking for yourself or with your housemates is cheaper and healthier than eating out and getting takeaways; if you're sharing meals with your housemates it will lower the cost even more. Plan your menu for the week, make a shopping list and stick to it! This will make sure you only buy what you need and less food will go to waste. You can also shop around for for the best prices using sites and apps like Latest Deals.

Supermarket own brands, particularly their value brands, are cheaper and often even preferred by consumers in blind taste tests. Try sampling a value version for one shop and see if you like it - even if you prefer the brand, you may still find the difference in price makes up for it. 

Take a packed lunch to your classes or work and bring your drinks in a flask or reusable bottle - it will be cheaper than buying sandwiches and coffees on campus every day.               

Asda and Sainsbury's do Meal Ticket Cards where a parent or guardian can put money on the card and the student can spend the money on food and hardware. 



Student discount sites and apps like NUS's TotumStudent BeansMy Uni DaysSave the StudentMy Student Discount and Student Money Saver give student deals. You can register as a student using your Keele email address and some of their apps can be used as student ID.

Many restaurants, entertainment venues and shops also offer student discount if you show your student ID so look out for this on their websites or in the buildings.

Freecycle is a useful resource for local people to list items they are giving away. There is also the Facebook marketplace.

Books for your course are usually very expensive when brand new but they can often be bought second hand from previous students, so check out local charity shops and look online for discounted textbooks before you spend your money.


enlightenedMedicine and Health Bills

Don’t pay extra for brands or for medication that claims to target one type of pain - more basic medicine can be  cheaper than brands even though the ingredients are identical.

Take care when buying medication for a specific type of pain. If you look at what's in the medication you will find many of them have the exact same content yet claim to be for pain different areas - often the same brand will just use different packaging and charge more for the same pills. 

If you're on low income, The NHS Low Income Scheme can help you cover health-related costs on the NHS such as travel, prescriptions, dental and optician’s bills. To apply, download the HC1 form, complete it and return it to the NHS.

You can also buy a pre-payment certificate (PPC) to save you money if you need regular prescriptions of at least two items. You can read about pre-payment certificates on the NHS website.


enlightenedUtility Bills

Visit our Bills page for tips on how to manage your bills and save money.

Check out the NUS Ready to Rent guidance, which has information on Energy Performance Certificates, avoiding damp and mould, smart meters, tips on wasting less energy and getting the best deal from the suppliers:

Shop around to look for the best deal for your utilities.  You will probably need the permission of your landlord to change suppliers so check your contract and check directly with your landlord. Money Saving Expert has a dedicated section advising you on getting good deals and how to switch.



Local bus services offer a bus ticket called the 'Keele Key' for students and staff, to lower the cost of travelling locally. You can read about the scheme on the University website.

16-25 railcard gives a third off train tickets in the UK and comes with some bonus offers. It’s also available to full-time students over the age of 26. It does cost some money but you can save some by buying a three-year card and by buying online. Some banks also offer free railcards if you open a student account with them.

National Express's Young Persons Coach Card gives a third off standard and fully flexible coach tickets for those aged 16 - 26 or in full-time education.

The university has a hardship fund that you can apply to if you are in hardship. There is an application form to fill in and you need to show your bank accounts as evidence. There are also smaller emergency loans available, but you would have to pay those back. The fund and loans are administered by Student Services and you can visit their page for more information.

As you will know, the cost of essentials has risen drastically in the last few months. If you're struggling to afford living costs, here are some potential sources of income and some tips that might help you.

Make sure you also check out our money saving tips above!

The Chancellor has announced a new package to help with the cost of living, which is explained on Money Saving Expert.

You can also read tips on how to cope with the rising costs on Money Saving Expert.


Energy bill £400 discount

A £400 discount will be applied from October to all domestic electricity accounts. The £400 discount will be administered automatically by suppliers and paid to consumers each month over a 6 month period. The discount payments will be £66 in October and November, then £67 from December to March 2023.

If you're in a bills-inclusive tenancy, your landlord should pass this discount on to you - they must comply with Ofgem guidance and they cannot overcharge tenants for the energy they’ve used or make a profit on it. However, there's no specific legal obligation for landlords to pass on the discount and this is being looked into. You can read more about this on Shelter's website.


Energy bill debts

If you’re in debt with your energy supplier, you might be able to get a grant to help pay off those debts. If your supplier doesn’t offer grants, you might be able to get one from the British Gas energy trust. 

If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills you can tell your supplier that you want to set up a payment plan. Your supplier has to take into account how much you can afford to pay and how much energy you’ll use in the future, so make sure you do a budget to work out what you can afford - see above for budgeting tips.


Help from your local council or charity

if you're in hardship your local council might be able to give you vouchers or a prepaid card to help pay for essentials like food or fuel. You could also get household appliances like a fridge. Each council runs its own scheme so what you can get depends on where you live - it's worth getting in touch with your local council to see if they can help.

If you have children in school and you’re on a low income or claim Universal Credit, you might be able to get free school meals. You might also be able to get help from your council with other costs, like uniforms. You can do a search for support on the Gov.uk website.

You can search for charity grants using the Turn2us search function.


Check you’re being paid the right wage

If you're working  and earning the minimum wage, make sure your employer increased your salary on 1 April 2022 . The current minimum wage is:

  • 23 and over — £9.50
  • 21 to 22 — £9.18
  • 18 to 20 — £6.83
  • Under 18 — £4.81
  • Apprentice — £4.81



Foodbanks are there for those in extreme hardship who are unable to afford food or essentials. If you'd like a foodbank referral you can visit Citizens Advice or get in touch with ASK.


Tell NUS your story

NUS is asking students and staff to contribute their stories to help them build the case for how students are being impacted by the cost of living crisis. If you'd like to contribute, you can fill in their form on the NUS website.

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