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Cambridge Uni living costs- anyone got experience can advise me?

(16 Posts)
hobobulate Thu 18-Aug-16 16:47:51

So, we are very pleased ds has got what he needs for Cambridge and had his offer confirmed. grin
Now onto the practicalities.hmm
he will get minimum maintenance grant . i am trying to work out how much we will need to contribute. He has opted for cheapest accommodation in his college - will be either £112 or £120 a week for 10 weeks per term. Then he will have hall meal charges added to this. Average cost of a meal seems to be about £4-6.
website suggests minimum amount needed to live on is £8500/year,That would mean us topping him up by around £4700 a year, but in all honesty I hadn't budgeted that much, and not sure we could manage it tbh.
So can anyone with any actual experience give me some guidance on how much your dc lives on in a college in Cambridge? Asking about Cambridge specifically as it is a bit different due to catered colleges and limited ability to cook own food.

boys3 Thu 18-Aug-16 18:51:47

Firstly well done to your DS !

DS1 starts his second year at Cambridge this year. Compared with many other Uni's living costs at Cambridge seem to be low.

Like you his college is accommodation plus whatever meals actually eaten - DS1 tends to have breakfast in his room, but main evening meal including pud probably £4 tops. Limited kitchen facilities but with a group of friends managed to cook a full Xmas dinner so it can be done.

Just a few costs examples
- printing : £0 in his college, although need to bring you own paper so a minimal cost there
- sports clubs £0 - as in no fees not that he does not do any. As an aside somewhat broader of shoulder after taking up rowing, so costs have been incurred to get new dress shirts and black tie regalia smile
- college gym £25 annual membership
- books - next to nothing - the place is crawling with libraries, although his library fines (which I gather may have reached the dizzy heights of double figures) may well have exceeded the amount he has needed to spend on books, even for a humanities subject.

They are just a few example but I doubt for all the basics including accomodation, food, socialising / formal dinners etc exceeded £7.5k last year. That is not to say he did not spend on top of that for frivolities like holidays, additional clothes only worn once

He has had a well paid summer job both after A levels and this summer but his savings seems to be increasing year on year.

When he was applying we conservatively estimated Durham would be a minimum £2k a year more for living costs.

MrsBartlet Thu 18-Aug-16 19:39:38

Congratulations to your ds hobobulate! Which college is he going to?

Dd is going into her second year at Emma. The good news is that Cambridge (and Oxford) are much cheaper than anywhere else as they are highly subsidised. Dd got the minimum loan and I worked out that she should use £3000 of that to live on and she could contribute the odd £700 to her college bill. I thought that lots of dc manage to live off of the minimum loan including buying their food so I didn't want her living a life of luxury with all of that to spend after food had been paid for. Her college bills have been between £1500 and £1600 each term. In reality we have used the £700 that she has given us to pay for things for her so that she didn't have to worry about them (ie Cambridge Union membership, ball ticket etc).

Watch out for any deposits they want up front. Emma is one of the more expensive and we had to pay a £1600 deposit up front which is taken off her last bill in the third year. I think other colleges are much cheaper than that!

Dd is a subject mum this year so she excitedly waiting to see who her children are going to be! The pastoral care and set up is excellent and makes it very easy for them to slot in.

sassymuffin Thu 18-Aug-16 23:11:00

DD gets minimum loan too and lives off that and we pay her college rent as her loan wouldn't even cover it. DD's catered* college sends DD a bill in late October, January and April and we didn't have to pay anything upfront before this. She worked full time over summer so also went with about £1000 in her account and she managed not to go into her overdraft this year.

Her grandparents paid for a new laptop and printer.

DD also went for cheapest room but it is not only rent that is added to her bill. Her termly fees are roughly as follows
Deposit (only payable in Michaelmas term) £85
Insurance (only payable in Michaelmas term) £15
Establishment charge £192.40
Minimum Dining Requirement £140.00* - works out about 4 evening meals per week.
Rent £1379.00 rent increases each year usually after Christmas in Lent term, this year it went up by £80.00
Gym membership (optional and payable Michaelmas term) £10

If she goes over her meal allocation additional charges are added on at about £3.50 per meal, if she doesn't use all of her allocation you do not get a refund. Usually students eat breakfast in their room and prepare their own lunch or grab a sandwich in the college buttery. Evening meals when she doesn't go to dinner she usually buys at Sainsbury's

We sent her with a supply of dried food, toiletries, Bold 2 in one tabs and cleaning products but she does have a cleaner once per week.

The income she earned last summer paid for books, her gown, May ball tickets/Garden party tickets and formal dining events both at colleges and corporate events.

With her loan she divided it into a weekly budget and lived off it including during holidays.

sassymuffin Thu 18-Aug-16 23:29:26

Sorry forgot to add congratulations to your DS blush
Just read previous post and meant to say we pay her termly bill not just her rent.

boys3 Fri 19-Aug-16 00:05:02

other point to note OP as the three responses above show is that each college is a bit different when it comes to charges. In contrast to sassymuffin's DD's college DS1's has no establishment charge and no minimum dining requirement; that might however be offset by different charges or costs elsewhere. Albeit these are still way lower than most Unis.

Worth getting in the porters' good books if going to a centrally located college with limited onsite parking; and ensuring your DS gets a nice box of chocolates or similar at the end of each term for his bedder.

jeanne16 Sun 21-Aug-16 09:55:27

My DD has just graduated from Cambridge. The main thing we didn't budget for were the formal balls. They try to go to a few each year. Anyway she paid for those out of summer jobs.

On a slightly different note - many of the colleges have a pot of money that can be accessed for 'educational travels'. My DD was awarded £800 for one summer trip and she had to write a review of its educational value. At her college, pretty much everyone that applied got one award. Make sure your DC looks into this.

hobobulate Sun 21-Aug-16 17:13:49

Oh, thank you all for your replies, that really helps.
mrsbartlet he is going to Emma! going to study computer science. yes, we have to pay a deposit which is £1692 this year. To be fair we were told about this earlier in the year and have managed to save this so can pay it now I have all the details.
He has his laptop already - hoping he wont need too many books.
and yes the pastoral set up sounds good. DS was telling me he will get college and subject "parents."
will go and have another look at all the figures and see how it all adds up.
I was thinking along the lines of breakfast in room and main meal in halls with lunch being variable so sounds like this is mostly what tends to happen.
Also much to DS delight he gets his washing done for him!!!

MrsBartlet Sun 21-Aug-16 17:33:38

hobobulate - that is great. Emma is lovely. It is very friendly and relaxed. The washing thing is a bit of a bonus although towards the end of the year dd was doing her own as it is a quicker turnaround. It is free to use the machines unlike in other places.

Dd does have breakfast in her room (other than Sundays where they do a great brunch in hall), lunch wherever she is and dinner in hall. Her parents were great and she made very good friends with her "dad" and as he is a medic he will actually be there the whole time she is there. Some of her friends are the freshers reps and they are lovely and all looking forward to welcoming the freshers.

Which building is he going to be in? If you have any more questions feel free to ask.

MrsBartlet Sun 21-Aug-16 17:54:48

hobobulate - forget I asked which building -probably too identifying!

hobobulate Sun 21-Aug-16 18:23:51

oh, thanks mrsbartlet it is nice to know that people should help him settle in - not the he would ever admit he may need any help, and to be fair he is quite independent but still, he is my oldest so this is all new!
I actually don't know about building yet - he hasn't had his accommodation confirmed yet. (Although the financial pack with details how to any deposit arrived same day he got his results!)He thinks he should get accommodation info this week.(although he says he has forgotten which he put down!hmm)
He is SO excited bless him.

MrsBartlet Sun 21-Aug-16 19:57:46

Glad he is excited. Dd had a bit of a meltdown before she went. Despite the fact that she had wanted to go to Cambridge since she was in Y10, she wasn't very independent and got scared. Very pleased to say though that she has had the best year of her life and she is much more independent now!

hobobulate Mon 22-Aug-16 10:02:38

mrsbarlet glad she enjoyed her first year. It is a big step for them isn't it. DS isn't phased by it, but I think it may be a different story when dd goes off somewhere in a couple of years.
how much do ball tickets tend to be, and how many a year do they tend to go to?

Boleh Mon 22-Aug-16 10:38:48

Unless things have changed drastically since I was there people tend to go to what balls they can afford. I went to one each year - my college's when it was on (every other year) and another on the alternate year. But... I tried to work at least one other, it gets you inside and the deal sometimes used to be that you'd work half and 'attend' half so you'd see it all. I guess if I'd had a partner at a different college is have been keen to go to their college ball too so maybe 2 some years.
There was such a range of incomes there that we did tend to find a friendship group that could largely afford to spend at a similar level. I'm sure there were people who managed to attend every college's ball over the 4 years but not ones I hung out with!

hobobulate Mon 22-Aug-16 13:39:07

thanks boleh yes, I suppose it will be for ds to budget his money accordingly and work out how many he can afford to attend.

MrsBartlet Mon 22-Aug-16 20:22:47

Dd's friends seemed to go to one or two. Dd had tickets for 2 but was ill on the day of one of them and managed to sell her ticket. Emma alternates and has a ball one year and then what they call an event the next year. The event is a slightly scaled down ball which doesn't go on as late and is cheaper. It was this year and was £80 so it will be the ball in your ds's first year. The ball ticket which dd had was for another college and was £140. Some of her friends worked at them so they could get in for free and as Boleh said you work one half and enjoy the other.

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