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What does the rising cost of living mean for students?

From university fees to rent increases, it can be hard to budget as a student. With rising living costs, many students are finding their finances are being stretched.

Here, we share insights into how students have been affected by the rising cost of living, plus tips to help you manage your money and get support if you need it.

Rising costs are taking their toll on student mental health

In a study, carried out by Sticky and Censuswide for HSBC, over half (54%) of current students said their financial situation is having a negative impact on their mental health. 

The study surveyed 2,002 young people, aged 16 and above – 1,002 current and 1,000 prospective university students in the UK. 

43% of students said they felt ‘stressed’ about their money situation, while 45% said they’re losing sleep thinking about money. Over a quarter of students (27%) believe that money worries are impacting their grades.

Only 9% of students felt secure with their money situation.

Prospective students have changed universities due to financial worry

The rising cost of living is front-of-mind for prospective students, with 44% changing their choice of university because of worries around how much it’ll cost. 

Many chose to stay closer to home to potentially save money on accommodation. Proximity to home was the most important factor for 30% of prospective students – the third most important consideration behind university reputation (36%) and the quality of the course (42%).

Tips to help you manage your money at uni

Budget and save where you can

More than half (55%) of current students say they’ve cut back on spending in the past six months to be able to afford the higher cost of living. 

Your student loan is usually paid into your bank account at the start of each term (or monthly in Scotland). But remember, that money needs to last – so think about your spending over the longer term. 

Creating a budget can help you see what you have coming in and going out, and if you'll have any money left over each month. You could use our budget planning tool to help. Looking for ways to reduce your outgoings can help you save money and keep your budget on track.

Explore: How to budget as a student

Choose the right student bank account

From student overdrafts to credit cards and perks, choosing the right account for your time at university can help you make the most of your money. For example, you might want to look for a student bank account that’s specifically for students, as they usually offer incentives, such as vouchers, railcards, and cash rewards for opening them.  

Find out more about student banking and what to look for.

Manage your money with tech and tools

Money management tools can help make budgeting a whole lot easier. 

If you're an HSBC customer, you can get a clear view of your finances and make payments through the HSBC UK Mobile Banking app.1 You can get notifications whenever you buy something, a Direct Debit leaves your account, or your student loan comes in. 

You can also use features like Balance After Bills, which shows you how much money you could have left over, once scheduled bills (Direct Debits and standing orders) have been paid. 

Help with money worries

If you feel stressed and anxious about money, you’re not alone. Here are some ways you can get help and support.

Reach out to loved ones

One in three respondents (34%) felt like they couldn’t open up about their financial situation. Although it can feel awkward sometimes, talking about money can help take the weight off your mind. Try talking to someone you trust, such as a partner, family member or friend. 

Explore: How to talk about money

Speak to your GP

If you’re experiencing challenges with your mental health and wellbeing, a healthcare professional, such as a doctor, can help. The NHS website is a good place to start if you’d like more information.

You can also get help and support from charities, including:

Visit your students’ union

Your students’ union can also help with any questions, worries, or concerns you might have, including money matters. Student advisors are there to listen and can offer free and confidential advice to help you.

Contact your bank

If you’re an HSBC customer and you’re worried about money, such as your student overdraft or missing a credit card or loan repayment, we can help. 

Call our team of specialists on 0800 085 2482 to get a helping hand.

Lines are open:

  • 08:00 to 18:00, Monday to Friday

  • 08:00 to 16:00, Saturday

Please note, lines will not be open Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.2

If you think your mental health could be affecting the way you manage your money, we have a range of services available to help. There’s also support available if you need extra assistance, or if you’re feeling anxious about your finances.

Survey was conducted by Sticky and Censuswide on behalf of HSBC UK. Sample size was 2,002 respondents in total – 1,002 university students (currently studying) and 1,000 prospective university students (going to university in September 2022 or September 2023). Fieldwork was undertaken between 20th to 30th May 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 16+).

1Device restrictions apply.
2We accept calls via Text Relay. To help us improve our service, and in the interests of security, we may monitor and/or record your call.