This page should be a guide for all those interested in the financial side of Oxford, and want to find out what help is available but don’t know where to begin! Whilst this page might be most helpful for freshers, it should also be helpful for anyone who finds themselves suddenly in need of this information. This information was correct as of March 2020, but exact figures may be subject to change over time so please check the embedded links. If you have any questions, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
Home (UK) or EU course fees for 2020 entry are £9,250. How much this figure is mostly depends on the government, and may be affected by Brexit. If you apply for a student loan, you can get all of this figure loaned to you - you do not have to pay it upfront.
For more on this, please see the budgeting and Merton-specifics section for more on this! Living costs in 2020-2021 are estimated to be between £1,135 and £1,650 per month, based on accommodation, food, personal, social and study costs. However, it’s probably better to work out your own estimated living costs, as the figure varies based on which college you go to! You may also need to budget for fieldwork, a student visa, or travel to and from university.
Just to note at this stage, the Crankstart Scholarship, the Oxford Bursary and Oxford Travel Supplement will be automatically assessed via your application to your regional student loan company - so you don’t need to apply to them! Otherwise, you have to apply for most scholarships, bursaries and grants!
Annual household income
£16,000 or less
£30,001 - £35,000
What is it? Financial support from the university based on sudden, unforeseen changes in your financial situation. It is advised that you try to apply to the College Hardship Fund and the Access to Learning Fund first. The maximum grant is £6,000. The deadline for applications is Friday of 3rd week in Michaelmas and Hilary, and Friday of 1st week in Trinity.
Eligibility requirements? There are many exclusive criteria for this fund; please read more about the University Hardship Fund here. The application form is here.
If you aren’t sure what financial help you may be eligible for, see Oxford University’s search tool here, allowing you to input the relevant information and check what you might be able to receive!
You can also check the external scholarships available to Oxford students here.
Undergraduate accommodation costs were £3,729 for a non-ensuite room and £3,951 for an ensuite room in the academic year 2019-2020. The accommodation cost covers rent, electricity, heating, wifi and cleaning costs. The exact pricing does change from year to year, so please check the prices on the website here. This price has to be paid in three instalments at the beginning of each term. For more on accommodation at Merton, see our dedicated page here.
Food is provided by hall, and whilst prices are subject to change, they average at about £10 per day for 3 meals. Hall is able to cater to most dietary requirements, so it’s an affordable and social way to get meals. Lunch and formal hall (a 3-course meal) are the most popular meals. See more about hall at the College’s page here or our own page here.
There are four main kitchens in the main college precinct: the JCR kitchen, Merton Street kitchen, North Lodge kitchen and Rose Lane 5 kitchen. These are available to students depending on where they live. There are also kitchens in all the houses on Holywell Street.
You can receive, subject to college’s decisions;
Up to £221.20 is available to final-year students who need to perform research for their thesis. Payments will not be made for thesis binding or copying, but for other costs. Please fill out the application form here before the final term of study.
Provisions for accommodation in college outside of term time are available, with up to 30 days available per student.
Money available for travel that has an educational benefit is available to students, as long as you fill out an application form. Applications should be made before 5pm on Friday of 4th week of the term before the proposed travel. Apply here.
Applied for on an individual basis, the college can provide funds for students taking their year abroad. Applications must be made by 5pm Friday of 4th week Trinity term here.
Funding available for students to travel for academic development, to undertake social justice or engagement and for intellectual/personal development.
Please note that you can either apply to the Gerry Grimstone Travel Award or the Undergraduate Travel Grant, not both. Apply here by 5pm Friday 4th week, Trinity Term.
The college will pay for all or the majority of the fee of taking a language course at the University’s Language Centre. Please contact the Academic Officer to find out how to be reimbursed.
Available to students who would like to undertake some form of academic project during the summer.
A book grant of up to £100 per year is given to cover half of your spending on books for your course (you’ll need to keep your receipts). Apply by Friday 6th week Trinity term here.
Merton can contribute to travel, membership and facility fees of those participating in college-level or university-level sport.
Subject to certain criteria, up to £450 per year is available for up to 6 students per year. Please apply here by 5pm on Tuesday of 1st week.
A grant available for students who require funding but are not eligible to apply for any other grant. This can only be applied to as a one-off. Apply here by 5pm Friday of 4th week.
Budgeting is difficult, but possible. Many people, when first moving to Oxford, might be scared that it’ll be extremely expensive. However, if you know how to manage your finances, living costs can be quite cheap! There are several steps to budgeting, which are outlined below.
Your income, whilst at uni, is all the money that you receive. This is likely from your maintenance loan payments, any savings, any money from jobs during the vacation, or any money from bursaries, grants or scholarships. Add all this up!
The outgoing costs include everything that you might spend money on. Really brainstorm and consider all the little evasive things that you’ll have to budget for, and split them into essential and non-essential.
Estimate how much you think you’ll spend on all of this, and add it up. Your budget is essentially your income minus your essential outgoings divided by the number of terms/months/weeks you’ll be using it for. That’s the basic method.
A more complex approach would be this: split up the total from the basic method and work with it, creating sub-categories if you’d like, to monitor each type of expense (ie. food, accommodation, travel, etc.). This will allow you to have greater control and see exactly what you’re spending, but requires a lot more time and monitoring! (see ‘Monitoring your spending’).
The timing of your outgoings and ‘income’ payments can be key. Is the payment in a one-off, or will it be a regular income? Does the payment occur once a year, once a month, or once a week? How often will you have to pay off those battels (college bills)?
You can choose to make a budget that lasts a term, a month, or a week! Different lengths of time may suit different people: if you want to be stricter with yourself, sometimes having a seemingly more ‘concrete’ smaller amount in a week can be useful if you want to control your expenses.
Many people like to be old-fashioned and keep their receipts, or write down what they’ve spent. If this isn’t for you, there are plenty of budgeting apps out there that allow you to keep track of how much you’ve spent, and what you’ve spent it on. You might find that you need to revise your budget: maybe you gave yourself way too much for your food budget, or perhaps the price of doing laundry went up. Either way, adjust your budget accordingly.
This is the hard bit. What can you say no to? If you chose the basic method above, your aim will be to cut down that overall budget to a smaller amount. If you chose the more complex sub-category method, it’ll be to cut down some of those smaller areas to decrease your overall outgoings. Below are some tips to help minimise what you spend.
Student bank accounts
To begin with, student bank accounts and finances may seem frustrating, but with some consideration the whole process can be a lot easier.
What makes a student bank account different from a regular account?
How to choose a student bank account?
You can’t alter the price of your accommodation much in Oxford, but you can save on vacation residence (the price of staying in your room outside of term time). Mertonians can apply for vacation residence, in which college allows you to stay in their accommodation. The deadlines to apply for vacation residence are quite tight though so check your emails for this!
Top tips for how to save on food costs include;
The main supermarkets in Oxford are Tesco Metro, as well as two Sainsburys ‘to go’. There is also an Aldi slightly further out of the centre (about a 45-minute walk and approx. £2.80 for a return bus ticket) that is slightly cheaper. A recent initiative, OxUnboxed, offers bulk buying of dry ingredients on Little Clarendon Street. There are also two main markets in Oxford, the Covered Market and Gloucester Green Market. The Covered Market has stalls that offer fresh produce everyday, whilst Gloucester Green Market is open Wednesdays to Saturdays, with an occasional cheap fruit and veg stall.
As you may know, the university isn’t too keen on the idea of its students working during term time, due to the heavy workload that its courses require. However, to maintain a decent income this is often necessary. How to overcome this? Work during the vac!
Talk to your current employer, if you have one. Will you be able to keep your job and work over Christmas, Easter and summer? These are often busy times when full-time staff go on holiday so make sure to sell yourself.
Can you get a job during the vacation? Many jobs require an application in advance, so make sure to start applying during term if necessary.
Some jobs can be done on a more ‘casual’ or independent basis, including proofreading, tutoring, dog walking etc.
The University and College do offer some paid work opportunities, such as Interview Helper and Student Ambassador roles during the vacations. These are often well-paid, so please consider applying!
Desperate for an internship during the vacation? Try to get one closer to home, to minimise travel costs (etc.) and try to secure payment for your time!
Get in contact with the University Careers Service, who offer workshops to improve your employability skills as well as offering job and internship opportunities.
Sign up to receive alerts from Target Jobs and other recruitment firms, to receive the most up-to-date opportunities.
Sign up to Linkedin, and keep your profile updated.
Make sure to have a CV ready and updated with your most recent information for those last-minute applications!
Bright Network: Graduate Careers For Bright Minds — internship and job-finding help, CV help, events….it’s all here!
Rare | Leaders in diversity graduate recruitment —programmes for BAME undergraduates.
upReach – Boosting social mobility by supporting students from less-advantaged backgrounds to secure top jobs — want CV and application support? Opportunities for personal development? Exclusive employer opportunities? Workshops? upReach is for you!