Student Money Survey 2014 – Results

This visual report documents our key findings.

How concerned are students when it comes to money?

Students worried about money

80% of students surveyed said that money worries are on their mind throughout university.

The impact of this on broader student welfare is clear, with almost one-half claiming that worrying about money adversely affects their course studies and the majority believing it causes their diet to suffer.

Student comments:

students budget

Save the Student has long campaigned for personal finance education in schools. It’s clear that whilst many university students struggle to live on little money, some aren’t taking account of their spending against their income to ensure it meets everyday needs over long periods.

Student comments:

How do students feel about their student loans?

Students worried about student finance (stats)

This year exactly half of all students surveyed said that they were worried about repaying their student loan, with slightly more admitting they don’t actually understand the repayment conditions. This demonstrates a severe case of confusion and lack of finance education (if you’re in the 55% you can find out everything you need to know here).

Beyond the loan, a significant majority of students are worried about what’s in store for them once they graduate. The quotes below highlight the most popular sources of worry.

Student comments:

How do students spend their money?

We’ve been publishing the results of our annual surveys on monthly student spending for several years now, but for 2014 there have also been some notable – verging on seismic – changes.

What do students spend money on? [stats]

Whilst rent has increased very slightly on 2013’s surge, spending on food has plummeted. In fact, in most categories spending has fallen compared to last year, down £38 across the board.

The spend each month on “luxury” items such as clothes and socialising have taken a small hit, however travel costs have jumped from £40 to £44.

On average, £5 is spent on illegal drugs each month, which may come as a surprise to some.

It may be that students are becoming increasingly sensitive to their spending habits, perhaps due to a higher awareness of ‘student debt’ since the fee increase along with the wider economic climate of austerity.

How do students earn money?

From the results above, we can see that the average student in 2014 spends £735 a month. When you consider that the average maintenance loan (for a student living outside of London) only covers £458 of living costs each month, it naturally makes you wonder where are students finding the extra £277 of income to supplement their spending?

how do students earn money

Of course part-time jobs are typically seen as the first port of call, but in reality employment is only a source of income for one-in-six students. Assuming students can find part-time work in the first place, holding down a job to pay the bills during term time could have an adverse affect on academic study and other commitments.

Student comments:

Universities and wider student funding support just over 10% of students with living costs, however the most popular plug in the student’s budget shortfall is the Bank of Mum and Dad (read on for more on this). High street banks also play their role, in providing student (hopefully 0%) overdrafts and a home for savings which encouragingly feed into the income streams of one-in-ten students.

Whilst relatively small, it is worrying to see some students turning to credit cards and payday loans to supplement their income.

Here at Save the Student we have also noticed an upward trend in students looking for alternative ways to make money, turning to opportunities online (eg. paid surveys) and even taking part in medical research. Plus these gems…

Strange/original ways students make money:

Where do students turn for money in an emergency?

With more and more students struggling to keep up with rent and the growing costs of living, it’s important to think about who or where they turn to in a financial emergency. Here are our findings:

Emergency money sources for students (stats)

It seems that in a time in their life when students are looking to become more financially independent, the majority still depend on their parents for financial support. However, one-third of those surveyed also feel that they do not receive enough help from their parents.

parent support

The thorny issue of how much parents should contribute towards their child’s growing university costs was prominent in the comments we received this year.

Students on parent support:


We were also alarmed to discover that students would rather turn to their bank or friends than contact their university support services for help.

But most worrying for us is that 2% of the students surveyed actually said they would contact a ‘payday loan’ (PDL) company. In fact just this week we received an email from an apparently desperate student asking us which PDL company would be best, even though they acknowledged themselves it was a bad move! Needless to say, we advised them of the alternatives.

How much money do students have in savings?

We thought it’d be interesting to get an insight into the buffer students have in terms of their own personal savings. So we asked the question!

student savings

Our survey revealed that almost a quarter of students have nada in savings, but overall we were happy to see the majority do.

Having said that, we noticed that most students with savings built them up before going to university in expectation of high living costs. Therefore first years tend to have significantly more squirreled away than final year students.

Student comments:

Is university worth it?

After asking all the above we wanted to gather an idea of whether students felt that university was actually even worth the financial costs and difficulties in gaining a degree.


It’s a pretty even split. As you can see, the majority (though by a small margin) do not feel as though their degree is good value, with just over 40% having the opposite opinion.

Student comments:

View this as an Infographic

Let us know your thoughts on this year’s findings in the comments below!

For a complete guide to budgeting and student finance, download our free “Essential Student Guide to Finance” eBook.

We’d be happy to offer further comment and/or information on request – please contact us.