Student money saving tips: Six ways you can financially prepare for university

In just over one weeks’ time, thousands of students will get their A-level results and for many it signals the start of their university career.

Most students have very low incomes, and there’s a strong likelihood of hefty debts to pay off in the future, so it’s important that they get off to a good start with their finances.

Those in their first year of study – known as ‘freshers’ – are notorious for burning through their student loans before the end of the first term, partly because they lack budgeting experience and because there is so much temptation to spend.

There are always ways to make money go further. Here we share our six top tips for those students set to embark on their university journey next month.

Get the right bank account

Most banks offer dedicated student bank accounts with a range of perks and interest-free overdrafts.

Avoid the temptation of signing up to a poor account just because of a freebie.

While a free NUS card or coach discount might seem appealing, students should do the maths and work out if the perk will actually be financially beneficial.

For those with regular incomes, there are some accounts which pay interest on balances.

Our guide to the best student bank accounts will help you decide on the best one for you.

  • Reader Service: Compare current accounts with Telegraph Money Comparison

If you’re a full-time student living alone or with other students then you don’t need to pay council tax.  You can apply for council tax exemption via the website.

Get a TV licence refund next summer

Put a reminder in your phone or diary to apply for a refund on your TV licence next summer.

A TV licence costs £147 for the year (you’ll need one even if you just watch BBC programmes on catch-up) but students can get a refund on their TV licence if they move out of their accommodation before the end of the academic year.

So if you purchase the licence in September and move back home the following July, you can get a refund for the remaining two months of the licence, worth £24.50.

Complete the online application form on the TV licence website to apply.

Once you’re living away from your parents you will have to factor in bills.

If you’re living in halls then you might not have a choice over who supplies your energy.

Otherwise, compare the cost of providers in your area to get the cheapest price. You can even earn cashback when you switch through some sites (see below).

Use a comparison site like* or uSwitch to check prices, or sign up for MoneySavingExpert’s Cheap Energy Clubwhich alerts you if a cheaper tariff comes onto the market.

If you sign up for a fixed tariff then you may have to pay an exit fee, typically around £10-£50 for both gas and electricity if you leave before the end of the contract. Make sure you check before you switch and factor this cost in.

It’s illegal for your landlord to prevent you from switching to a cheaper energy supplier, although you may need to tell them if you do.

Keep mobile phone costs down

If you already have a contract and it is nearly up, use a site like MobilePhoneChecker or Billmonitor to find a deal that’s best for you, based on how you’ve used your phone previously.

If you’re happy to stay with your current provider then try to haggle down the cost of the contract.

If you have an old phone then you could try recycling it to get some extra cash. Use or to find the best deal.

Tips for saving money on a night out


Get cashback on (almost) everything you buy

Every time you shop online at selected retailers you can earn money back on your purchases.

Cashback websites pay you when you click through to them and make a purchase.

The two biggest sites Topcashback and Quidco work in a similar way. Both offer free membership for users and will offer cashback on utility bills, holidays, clothing, groceries and more. For instance, you can earn cashback of up to £70 on a Sky TV package, or up to 5pc on purchases at Currys PC World.

You can transfer any earning directly into your bank account.

The key is to do your research first to find the cheapest price, then check to see if you can cashback before you commit to buying or signing up to a new deal