Managing finances as stressful as exams for university students

With the deadline for student finance looming, new research from Which? University reveals that undergraduate students find managing finances as stressful as exams.

A survey of over 2000 undergraduate students at UK universities shows that one in seven (15%) rank managing finances as the most stressful aspect of their university experience, alongside exams (15%) and almost as stressful as coursework (18%).

The figures come just days before the student finance application deadline (26 May). Prospective students have to apply for funding by this date to ensure they receive funding from the start of the academic year.

The stress of managing finances came higher up the rankings than other major life changes for students such as being away from family, friends and loved ones (9%), making new friends (7%), and living conditions in accommodation (4%).

Which? University recently found that for young people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds not intending to apply to university, two in five (42%) said they thought it would be too expensive.

Most students planning to go to university can borrow money to pay for their fees and living costs through a number of finance options:

  • A non-means tested loan to cover tuition fees
  • A means-tested maintenance loan to cover living costs (e.g. rent, food, books, travel, etc.)
  • A non means-tested loan available to students aged 19 and over, studying eligible courses

Students looking to become fully informed about the costs of studying and the financial support available can download Which? University’s complete guide to student finance.

Alex Hayman, Which? Managing Director of Public Markets, said:

“Missing the deadline for student finance could have significant consequences, leaving students without funding at the start of the academic year.

“Apply ahead of Friday’s deadline to avoid frustration and unnecessary complication in the first term of university.”

The most stressful aspects of university

  • Coursework – 18%
  • Exams – 15%
  • Managing my finances – 15%
  • Adjusting to the structure and requirements of my course – 12%
  • Being away from family, friends and loves ones – 9%
  • Making new friends – 7%
  • Health issues – 6%
  • ‘Student life’ not living up to expectations – 5%
  • Living conditions in my accommodation – 4%
  • Trying to fit in – 4%
  • Other – 3%
  • Settling into a new area – 2%


Notes to editor

  • Which? University is a free and independent website to help students make more informed decisions about higher education, featuring more than 30,000 courses and nearly 300 universities and colleges to search and compare. We bring together facts and statistics from official sources including UCAS and the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), and combine these with real-life insight from students and the unbiased, expert analysis you’d expect from Which?.
  • Youthsight, on behalf of Which?, surveyed 2137 undergraduate students at UK universities. The research was conducted online and took place between 16th March and 10th April 2017
  • Download the Which? University guide to student finance here.
  • For full details of the data on young people divided on university aspirations here.
  • For more detailed advice on student budgeting visit:
  • The deadline for student finance in England is 26th May 2017 to make sure students receive their first payment in time for the start of their courses.

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