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Cambridge University Students' Union
Old Examination Hall
Free School Lane
Cambridge CB2 3RF
Cambridge isn't an expensive place to go to university: you normally only have to pay for when you are in Cambridge, and generally living costs are substantially cheaper than many places, (people choose bikes over buses!) and there are many pots of money for travel, sports and hobbies waiting for students to find. Cambridge is committed to ensuring that no student should ever feel that they cannot apply or that they cannot continue their studies here because of financial reasons. As a student anywhere, it's important to think about things like budgeting and watching what you spend, but if for any reason you have genuine problems, the University will be able to help.
Cambridge isn't expensive... living costs are cheap and there is lots of help on offer.
There are also a range of non-income assessed grants that you can apply for. If you fancy going somewhere in the summer, for example, and you can tenuously relate your holiday to your course, there's a good chance you'll be able to get a travel grant – a contribution to the cost of your holiday.
Living in Cambridge as a student is surprisingly cheap, and you'll find that you can make money last much longer here than you might expect. With so much in the city aimed at students, you'll be able to make the most out of both your time and your money.
Key Fact: Most students only have to pay for accommodation during term-time (some college allow you to have your room for 39 weeks if you want to stay over vacations).
Nearly all students 'live in', taking accommodation in the Colleges throughout their whole time at university. This means that you only have to pay for your accommodation during the 32 weeks of term time. At many other universities, second and third years have to seek accommodation through the private market, where they rent houses for 52 weeks a year, even when they are not living there. Weekly rent here varies between about £60 and £140 a week, depending upon facilities (en suite, size etc), and you usually get a choice of what type of room you want (and therefore how much you want to pay).
Colleges offer food in their halls and canteen for all three meals, and these are at subsidised costs. There are also (often basic) self-catering facilities, so you can choose to cook for yourself. Cost and standard of College food tends to vary (from meal to meal as well as between Colleges), but you can expect to get a decent meal for £2-4. Colleges also offer 'formal hall', a three course meal in College for around £6, which is a great cheap alternative to eating out. If you do want to eat out, you'll be able to get a good range of discounts: students make up a huge section of the Cambridge population, and businesses make the most of this.
You'll find that you won't incur any real transport costs. Cambridge is geographically compact and completely flat, so it's really easy to walk or cycle everywhere. Buses are used very rarely, and there are stops by most University sites. Cambridge is also really safe, so you can walk home from nights out, rather than get a taxi.
Cambridge has an amazing set of libraries, with College libraries, faculty libraries, and the University Library, a legal deposit library which stocks every book published in the UK. There's no need to buy any books, as borrowing is really easy and cost-free (until you forget to return the book). If you are the kind of person who likes their own copy of everything, there's a huge Oxfam bookshop where you'll find a surprising amount of course material as well as light reading.
The long holidays (the summer holiday is three months) give you loads of opportunity to work and earn extra money. As well as the normal summer jobs, there are hundreds of internships where you can earn a fortune at the same time as getting incredible work experience. Though some students will work a few hours in a College bar or library, the University doesn't like people to work during term-time, and from a student perspective, you're unlikely to either want or need to work.
A financial week in the life of ...
Emma Blackburn, Peterhouse, English, 3rd Year from Leeds
Meals in the canteen – £4
Cycle to lectures – free
Get books from library for this week's essay – free
Meet with friend and grab coffee – £1.50
Trip to the College bar – three drinks @ £1.50
Pick up breakfast on my way out – £1.50
Day in the department – free
Go to 'formal hall' for a friend's birthday – £4
Go on to the student club night – £3
Try to research essay, but spend time on Facebook in computer room – free
Cook tea with friends, and back to work – £2
Sit in Starbucks to read – £2.50
Go to the College gym – free
Lunch and tea in the canteen – £4
Essay writing day, incl. buying one bar of chocolate as 'motivation' – £0.60
Cook meals for myself – £3
Trip to the bar as a reward for writing essay – £2.50
Sleep in, then go to the College tennis pitches for a game with friends – free
Start planning Students' Union event I'm running – free
Go to see a friend in a theatre production – £4
Start work on a translation exercise I'd forgotten about – free
Sunday lunch in the canteen – £3
Finish the work from this morning, then go to a meal at another College with the football club – £4
Help with student club night – free entry, drink – £2