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The Costs of Studying at Cambridge

Please scroll down for information on budgeting and money management.

The University Tuition Fee and the College Fee are contributions towards the cost of providing the academic teaching of your chosen degree course, and the ancillary services which constitute the collegiate environment.


Tuition Fee

Cambridge charges the same level of Tuition Fee as most other British Universities. The University website (Undergraduate Admissions>Fees and Finance>Tuition Fees) offers up to date information on the level of the University Tuition Fee.


College Fee

UK and EU students do not pay an additional College fee, unless they are studying for a second degree. The College fee varies slightly between Colleges, but is typically between £6,000 and £7,500 per year. Sidney’s undergraduate College Fee for 2016/17 is set at £7,150.


Living Expenses

During each term, the bulk of your current expenses will cover accommodation and meals: these charges, together with a few additional sundry items, are detailed in your College Bill.


An Affordable University

While the level of the Tuition and College Fees will typically increase slightly from year to year, and rent and other current expenses will also follow the general trend of prices, some principles are central to the philosophy of university admissions and remain constant over time:

  1. Cambridge is by no means a particularly expensive university:
  • the tuition fee is identical to that charged by most other UK universities;
  • current expenses (and room rents in particular) are generally lower than elsewhere.
  • unlike private accommodation, which is typically rented by the quarter if not for the whole calendar year, College accommodation is only charged for the period of residence (thirty weeks).
  • You will have no transport costs: most Colleges and University Departments are within the historic centre of Cambridge, easily reached on foot or by bicycle.
  1. As long as you are eligible for a student loan, you have a right to borrow the funds needed to cover your Tuition Fee. This Tuition Fee Loan will only become re-payable after graduation, and even then, only while your income is above a certain threshold and periodically reviewed by the Department of Children, Families and Schools.
  1. Moreover, there are several financial support mechanisms (Core Funding, Additional Financial Support) aiming to ensure that no UK student should be deterred from applying to the University of Cambridge because of financial considerations, and that no student should have to leave because of financial difficulties. A number of Awards and Prizes are also available to reward excellence academic, artistic, and sporting excellence, and they can contribute significantly to making student budgeting more comfortable.



Budgeting and Money Management

Freshers' Week Student Finance Workshop Presentation

For many students, coming to College also involves their most significant experience to date of managing money and budgeting: the sums involved are relatively large (the total cost of a year’s undergraduate study is most likely to exceed £6000); and you need to consider the year, if not the overall duration of your course, as a whole, and budget accordingly.  Your first term is a good example of this, because of the timing of the billing of your current expenditures (example bill PDF).


ABOVE ALL  Money worries should not be allowed to spoil your enjoyment of your studies and your College life.  Most financial difficulties can either be avoided altogether by sensible budgeting, or managed over time, or alleviated by financial support, which the College is able to provide through its Student  Welfare Fund.  Should you ever find yourself in financial trouble, remember that we are here to help: there is no reason to hide the problem, and it will be typically much easier and quicker to solve it if you discuss it with the College – your query should be addressed in the first instance to the Tutorial and Student Finance Manager, Mr David Graves (, Tel. +44 1223 7 60972).


MONEY MANAGEMENT  You are of course already familiar with the basics of bank accounts. You may not have had a credit card before, in which case one piece of advice is probably helpful: credit cards are one of the most expensive ways to borrow, and – unlike your student bank account overdraft – you will incur full charges for any amount outstanding on your credit card beyond the payment deadline. The same applies to store cards.  Last but not least, your plastic money will include your University Card: this serves effectively as an interest-free credit card within Sidney, with a settlement period equal to a full term: you can use it to buy meals in Hall, beverages from the Buttery, College merchandise from the Porters’ Lodge …  Whenever you make use of your University Card to make a purchase, you have the opportunity to check your balance; you can of course also do this in the College Office.


BUDGETING  Income, twenty pounds; expenditure, nineteen pound nine shilling and sixpence: result, happiness. Income, twenty pounds; expenditure, twenty pounds, nought and sixpence: result, misery. (Mr Micawber in Charles Dickens)


Budgeting involves

  • Identifying and adding up all available sources of income over a given period of time;
  • Identifying and adding up all the expenses, which can be expected over the same period. (Ideally, this planned expenditure will include a contingency reserve to meet unexpected costs);
  • Subtracting expenditure from income to obtain the planned surplus (positive balance) or deficit (negative balance) for the period.


A simple budgeting exercise will be part of your early round of College meetings during Freshers’ Week. Throughout the year, the College Office Manager, is available to offer advice and help you review your financial situation; when serious difficulties arise, your Tutor will typically become involved in exploring possibilities of financial support through the College Student Welfare Fund and University provisions.


Budgeting is not one of the thrills of University life, but in most cases the few minutes of your time devoted to it will leave you free to enjoy those thrills un-distracted by money worries.  Budgeting cannot of course remove all financial emergencies (from major unexpected expenses, to changes in family circumstances and support…): even in these cases, however, a well-presented financial summary will greatly strengthen a claim for financial support from the College.