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What does the rising cost of living mean for students?

It can be hard for students to budget as living costs rise.

Many students are finding their finances are stretched as they pay for tuition fees and increased rent.

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 taking their toll on student mental health

In a study carried out by Sticky and Censuswide for HSBC[@sticky-censuswide-student-survey-may-2022], more than half (54%) of current students said their financial situation was having a negative impact on their mental health. 

The study surveyed 2,002 current and prospective university students in the UK. 

Almost half of them (43%) said they felt ‘stressed’ about their money situation, while 45% said they were losing sleep thinking about money. More than a quarter of (27%) believed money worries were affecting their grades.

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

Students changing universities because of financial worry

Our research showed 44% of prospective students had changed their choice of university because they were worried how much it would cost. 

Many chose to stay closer to home to save money on accommodation. Being close to home was the most important factor for 30% of prospective students.

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 6 months because of 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. 

You can see what you have coming in and going out by creating a budget. That can also help you see if you'll have any money left over each month. You could use our budget planning tool to help. Keep your budget on track by looking for ways to reduce your outgoings.

Explore: How to budget as a student

Choose the right student bank account

Choosing the right account for your time at university can help you make the most of your money. Your choice might depend on whether you want student overdrafts, perks or credit cards, for example. If you get a student bank account, 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.

You can get notifications whenever you 

  • buy something
  • a Direct Debit leaves your account
  • your student loan comes in

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

Please note, our banking app only works on certain devices.

Help with money worries

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

Reach out to loved ones

A third of those who took part in our survey (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.

You can also get help from charities, including:




Anxiety UK

Visit your students’ union

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

Contact your bank

If you’re with HSBC and you’re worried about money, we can help.

For example, if you're anxious about your student overdraft or missing a credit card or loan repayment, call our team of specialists on 0800 085 2482.

Lines are open:

08:00 to 18:00, Monday to Friday

08:00 to 16:00, Saturday

Please note, lines aren’t open Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.  We accept calls via Text Relay. To help us improve our service, and in the interests of security, we may monitor or record your call.

If you think your mental health could be affecting the way you manage your money, there’s a range of services available. We also have broader accessibility support. And you might find this guidance useful if you’re feeling anxious about your finances.