Everything you need to know from budgeting and avoiding financial worries, to fees, grants, and your College Bill.

Money management

Coming to College will probably involve your most significant experience to date of managing money and budgeting.

  • The total living cost of a year’s undergraduate study is most likely to exceed £11,000.
  • You need to consider overall duration of your course as a whole and budget accordingly.
  • Your first term will be a good budgeting exercise due to the timing of the bill for your current spending.
University card

All Cambridge students are issued with a University card when they join us. This card is used in College to gain access to restricted areas (such as accommodation blocks or the College Library).

The card becomes your 'plastic money' in College! This serves effectively as an interest‐free 'credit card' within Sidney, with a settlement period equal to a Full Term.

You can check your balance whenever you like on the Sidney Student Portal once you join.

Avoiding financial worries

Money worries should not be allowed to spoil your enjoyment of your studies and your College life.

Most financial difficulties can:

  • be avoided altogether by sensible budgeting
  • be managed over time
  • be alleviated by financial support through the College's Student Support Fund

Should you ever find yourself in financial trouble, please remember that we're here to help. There's no reason to hide the problem, and it will be typically much easier and quicker to solve if you discuss it with us.


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 from money worries.

Budgeting cannot remove all financial emergencies (from major unexpected expenses, to changes in family circumstances and support), but even in these cases, a well-presented financial summary will strengthen a claim for financial support from the College.

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

The Student Finance Manager is available to offer advice and help you review your financial situation. When serious difficulties arise, your Tutor can become involved in exploring possibilities of financial support through the College Student Support Fund and University Financela Assistance Funds.

Costs to consider


Sidney guarantees College-owned accommodation throughout your undergraduate course (up to four years).

Weekly accommodation charges are inclusive of all costs directly attributable to the room (ie heating, water, internet access, maintenance and insurance), and also include a contribution to the fixed costs of communal dining facilities which all students are encouraged to use.

Studying and living at Cambridge can be much cheaper compared to other universities. Terms at Cambridge are short, and at Sidney the minimum contract length is only 30 weeks for undergraduates, so the savings you make can be substantial compared with paying the same weekly rent on a conventional twelve-month lease, as many students at other universities are required to do.

The University of Cambridge has three terms in each academic year (known as Michaelmas, Lent, and Easter Term) and undergraduate students need to be in residence for full term. Sidney undergraduates have a 30-week accommodation licence which is split into three fixed periods of 10 weeks to cover each term. Students are expected to clear their rooms at the end of each 10-week period so that it can be used for other purposes whilst they are away. With permission, students may remain in their College accommodation during some or all of the vacations, with the extra vacation periods being charged at a vacation rent of +5%. Students may opt for a 39-week contract at the start of the academic year if they plan to stay in College throughout the vacation periods.

Rooms across the College are allocated into five bands (Band A, B, C, D and E) by the students’ union depending on size and facilities. For 2023-24, the termly room-rents for first-year undergraduate students will be £1,664 (Band E) to £1,954 (Band A).

Students eligible for the Cambridge Bursary (see below) will receive a rent rebate award which will typically be equivalent to 9.5% of the Band C accommodation rate. The level of rent rebate will be reviewed annually.

Check out our undergraduate accommodation page for more information about accommodation at Sidney Sussex.


The Cambridge Bursary Scheme is available to UK students from lower income backgrounds and can provide additional support towards your living costs.

Catering charge

For 2023-24, Sidney students pay a termly Minimum Meal Charge. This pre-paid charge (as noted on our Eating here page) will see each student receiving a £56.10 termly credit to spend on College dining. Your University Card is used to purchase food and beverages through the cafeteria, and you can sign up for Formal Hall, a formal evening meal with waiter service which run on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays during term, through SidNet the college intranet. Any unspent credit will be carried over to the following term, but students are encouraged to use this before the end of the academic year as any unspent credit at this stage will be removed. Where the total catering charges incurred over a term exceed the value of your meal credit, the additional costs are charged to your college account to be included in the invoice you receive at the start of the following term.


The average cost for cafeteria lunch or dinner is £6.25 and the cost for Formal Hall is £11.12 for students or £16.82 for guests.

The quality of our meals is excellent, and many students can be found eating in Hall on a daily basis!

You can read more about the catering charge on our Eating here page.

College Bill

Students will receive a bill from the Student Finance Manager. Each bill includes the residential (room) charge, catering charge and, for students who are funding their own studies, the Tuition fee.

In addition to above, the College Bill will also include the College fee for any international students or students taking a second BA degree at Sidney.

Please note that where these charges are made in advance, charges for any sundry expenditure are made in arrears; for example, the bill at the start of the Lent and Easter Term includes the bill for food consumed in Hall, and printing for the previous Term.

Paying your College Bill

All invoices will be emailed directly to your Cambridge (@cam.ac.uk) email address. Invoices are sent on or around the first day of each Full Term.

Payment terms are 10 days from date of invoice and your payment can be made via the Student Portal, Online Banking or by Bank Transfer. International students can also pay through TransferMate.

The Student Portal

The online portal for Sidney students offers a secure service through which you can make your debit and credit card payments. Simply follow the link (https://sidnet.sid.cam.ac.uk/student/finance/), sign-in with your Raven login and select the following options:

  • Pay your College Bill online
  • Fees and Charges (from the menu bar)

On the left hand side of the screen you will be able to see your College Bill Balance (last Statement). In the box provided enter the amount that you are about to pay. When you select the option to ‘Make Payment’ you will now be taken to the Monek secure payment gateway where you will be asked to enter the details required to complete your card transaction.

Online Banking or Bank Transfer

A direct transfer made to the College’s Bank Account. Bank details are included on your College bill and are also available on request from the Student Finance Manager.


TransferMate is a safe, secure online payment method purpose-built to facilitate frictionless international student payments, reducing the time and money associated with sending and receiving funds.

Trusted by over 110,000 students worldwide every year.

Pay tuition, student housing, and other educational costs via: VISA, MasterCard, American Express, RuPay, Alipay, Union Pay, SoFort, Trustly, and more.

What are the benefits?

  • Faster payment processed within 24 to 48 hours.  
  • Allows you to pay in your local currency to a local bank account.
  • Great exchange rates and zero banking charges.
  • 24-hour customer service from TransferMate.
  • 24-hour online tracking of payments.

How do I make a payment with TransferMate?

  1. Click on the TransferMate payment link: https://sidneysussexcollege.transfermateeducation.com/
  2. Choose the country you’re paying from and your preferred payment method.
  3. Register your one-time set up account by providing your details.
  4. Make your payment with the provided instructions.
  5. Track your payment throughout the process.

College fee

All international/overseas fee status students, and those Home fee status students who aren't eligible for tuition fee support (ie affiliate students who are studying for a second degree), normally have to pay College fees in addition to University tuition fees.

The College fee covers the cost to your College of providing a range of educational, domestic and pastoral services and support.

Annual College fees may vary between Colleges and in many cases are fixed for the duration of your course. Discover the latest College fee for all Cambridge Colleges, including Sidney, on the University website.

Living costs

There are various living costs you will need to consider during your studies at Cambridge. Average living costs are estimated on the University website, although this will obviously depend on your lifestyle!

Living costs for EU and international students will be somewhat higher, due to the costs of travelling to Cambridge.

Social life

Both Sidney and the University have a wide range of clubs and societies. Almost all of these are open to students at little or no cost.

There is also a student bar on-site and the Sidney gym is good value.

There are plenty of free museums in Cambridge to enjoy.

Contents insurance

By partnering with Endsleigh we’ve arranged contents insurance for all our students staying with us in our residence.

It is important all students confirm their cover to ensure you understand what is and isn’t covered.

Visit confirm your cover to see:

  • What is and what isn’t covered
  • Policy excess – the amount you pay when you make a claim 
  • How to make a claim
  • Personalise cover 

The student insurance options have been designed to cover the risks that you may encounter whilst living in student accommodation and away from home. 

Study costs

Both Cambridge and Sidney Sussex have excellent library provision, meaning that students are not required to buy many, if any, books.

At Sidney, the Richard Powell Library has around 40,000 books, with core texts for all first- and second-year courses, general texts for third- and fourth-year courses, and a wide range of periodicals.

The College has a range of study grants available to help fund research, travel, or other study-related expenses.

We also award prizes, in the form of money or book grants, to students who have performed extremely well in University or College examinations.


Our fantastic central location means that our students have almost no transport costs.

All our accommodation, and most faculties and departments, are within easy walking or cycling distance.

One of the many perks to being a Sidneyite is that we are surrounded by a wide range of shops, restaurants, bars, and nightlife so you won't ever need to travel far!

Tuition fees

You can discover the latest tuition fees on the University of Cambridge website.

Please contact the Tutorial and Student Finance Manager if you have any queries relating to finance at Sidney.