Living Costs, Discounts, Budgeting & Debt Advice

In addition to tuition fees, students encounter a range of living costs including rent, bills, food, travel and socialising.

The money available to students is usually limited, so budgeting is a crucial skill to have, both before and during their course. In the case that a student falls into debt, it is crucial they access debt advice early on.

Living costs

The information below provides an example of how some of your essential living costs might look while studying at UAL in 2017/18.

Accommodation costs will probably be your biggest expense, but it can also be the most variable. There will be a considerable difference in cost between a 40-week and a 52-week housing contract so you need to be sure which period you are budgeting for.

Some costs will only be one-off set up costs, such as deposits, bedding and cooking utensils.

Some of the items below (such as course materials and travel) will only be outgoings during term time which is approximately 31 weeks of the year.

Cost typePer week
Accommodation £185
Household bills £25 (£0 if in Halls)
Food and housekeeping £35
Phone £6-10
Travel £23 (zone 1-2 student travelcard)
Course Costs* Variable

*Part of your tuition fee covers basic course materials, workshop, studio provision and technical support. However, over and above this, you may incur extra costs associated with your studies, which you will need to plan for. The cost of making work depends very much on the nature of the individual practice and the particularities of materials and scale that you choose to work with. If you elect to use materials that are not supplied as standard via your workshop or course, you will bear these costs. Spending extra money in this way will not have any effect on your marks.

When using this information, it is important to note that:

  • Students who apply for UAL halls of residence, and subsequently receive an offer of a room, must pay a deposit, advance rent and the administration fee in order for their room to be secured. This payment may be due soon after the offer of the room and several months before the start of the course (and before receiving any Student Finance, if eligible). If you have any questions about these halls costs contact Accommodation Services.
  • For undergraduate students starting in the 2017/18 academic year who are eligible to apply for funding from Student Finance England, the maximum Maintenance Loan is £11,002 for the year
  • The amount of your living costs will depend on a range of factors, including personal choices about how to spend your money. Some savings can be easily made by adjusting your spending, getting cheaper deals on things like phones and utilities and making use of student discounts (see Discounts section below).
  • Budgeting is a necessary skill for all students – in an ideal world you would balance your expenditure against your income. The headings in these tables can help you work out your own expenditure. See the Budgeting section below for some tips.
  • Although in the past a TV Licence was only required if you watch or record programmes on any channel as they are being shown on TV or live on an online service, from 1 September 2016 you now also need to be covered by a TV Licence to download or watch BBC programmes on demand, including catch up TV, on BBC iPlayer. See the TV Licensing website.


In the Living Costs section above, you will see that it is very likely that there will be a considerable gap between any funding you may receive and your living costs.

Although students tend to focus on maximising their funding and other streams of income (e.g. part-time employment), which is of course very important, many do not manage their spending carefully so that they can live within their means and avoid getting into financial difficulty whilst studying. Financial difficulties can affect students’ wellbeing and result in disruption to their studies, sometimes to the extent that they need to take time out of their course.

The following resources will assist you to plan your budget, thereby balancing your income and expenditure. You can use these in advance of, and during, your studies.

Budget planning tools

Minimise your spending

Money tips

Debt advice

If you end up in considerable non-University debt while you are a student, it is essential to seek advice immediately.

The Student Advice Service has specialist regulated Debt Advisers who provide free, confidential and impartial advice and ongoing support for non-UAL debts.

They can help students to:

  • Manage repayments
  • Regain control over their finances
  • Stop increasing pressure from creditors.

They do this by helping students to:

  • Find out how much they owe, whether they are liable for all of it, and whether the amount can be reduced
  • Prioritise their debts
  • Produce a standard financial statement
  • Negotiate repayment plans with creditors
  • Explore other options that are available, depending on the level of debt the student has
  • Maximise their income
  • Budget and carefully manage spending
  • Explore ways of decreasing outgoings (e.g. changing utilities provider, prioritising spending)
  • Understand credit rating and how it is impacted by debt.


Students may be eligible for a range of discounts while they study, which can be useful in keeping costs down and managing a tight budget.

Always check that you meet the detailed eligibility requirements of a discount scheme before you rely on it.

Council Tax exemption

See our Council Tax page.

16-18 Zip Oyster photocard

The 16-18 Zip Oyster photocard provides significant discounts on public transport in London for students aged 16-18.

18+ Student Oyster photocard

The 18+ Student Oyster photocard provides a discount of 30% on weekly, monthly and annual Travelcards, and Bus and Tram Pass season tickets. Eligible students can apply on the Transport for London website after enrolment. In order for your discount to remain active, you must continue to be living in a London borough; use your My Personal Details account to keep your term-time address up to date in UAL's records and ensure you keep your discount, if eligible.

The factsheet below provides further information about the card.

Students who do not want to buy weekly, monthly or annual Travelcards may still be able to save money. If you have a 16-25 Railcard (see below), you can get a 34% discount on off-peak pay as you go fares and off-peak daily caps on Tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and most National Rail services in London. Just visit a Transport for London Visitor Centre with your 16-25 Railcard to add the discount to your 18+ Student Oyster photocard.

Problems with your application: If you have not received your 18+ Student Oyster photocard, and it has been more than 3 weeks since you applied, please get in touch on 020 7514 7643 or

16-25 Railcard

Anyone aged between 16 and 25 can apply for a 16-25 Railcard to save one third on National Rail fares.

Students aged over 25 may also eligible if they are on a full-time course and some part-time courses. See information for students aged over 25.

NUS Extra

Eligible students can apply for an NUS Extra Card, to get student discounts in a range of shops, and on a range of products and services including food and drink, entertainment and health and fitness. You will need to be enrolled on your course to apply.

IT discounts

UAL students can get discounts on a range of IT products, including Apple computers and Microsoft Office. See IT discounts.

ArtFund Student Art Pass

This provides free or discounted access to a range of museums and exhibitions. Visit the ArtFund website for more information.


The Student Advice Service is available to provide further information and support on financial matters related to your course.