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Charges you didn’t expect when you went to university

Published 24 September 2015 by

If you’re heading off to university, this is probably the first time you’re going to manage your money completely by yourself. There won’t be any parents there to look over every purchase that you make or tell you what not to spend your money on – it’ll be completely up to you (even if they do send you money from time to time!) To prepare you for some of the unexpected charges you’ll face, read our guide.

Library fees

Although university is about enjoying the experience and socialising, you will have to study at some point and that’s where the library will come in! Just make sure that you return the books or resources that you borrow on time as you won’t want to face costly library fees. These will vary depending on your university but they can add up quickly.

For example, the University of Manchester charge 50p per hour for high demand books and up to £2 a day for other recalled items. The maximum that you can be charged per item is £20. You’ll face charges for printing, photocopying (per sheet) and for having to replace any items like books, journals, audio material or your library card.

If you’ve got to complete a dissertation as part of your university course, then the library is probably where you’ll get it bound. How much this will set you back will depend on how quickly you want it doing, so plan in advance. For example, it will cost you £38.95 to have a dissertation traditional hard bound in one working day at the University of Durham but £29.50 if you can wait three working days.

Housing deposit

Like many students, you might decide to venture out of halls in your second year and live in rented accommodation. As a condition of letting a property, you’ll be required to pay a deposit, which will act as security against any damages made to the property or missed rent. If you’re on an assured shorthold tenancy (usually for six or 12 months), your deposit should be put in a deposit protection scheme.

When it comes to moving out of your accommodation, your landlord can retain some or all of your deposit if they’re not happy with how you leave the property. To ensure that this doesn’t happen, make sure to get a receipt for your deposit, agree an inventory with your landlord before you move in and take photos so that you can use these as evidence later on.


You’ll be required to buy certain textbooks for your course, and these can be expensive if you have to buy new ones each term. Side-step these costs by heading down to your university library (before everyone else on your course has the same idea) or buy your textbooks second-hand. Look out for book fairs during the course of the term or use sites like AbeBooks, Alibris or even eBay to pick up books cheaply.


Once you’ve made it to the end of your university course and are about to graduate (hurrah!), you’ll have to hire a cap and gown for your graduation ceremony. Again, the cost of this can vary based on who provides these services for your university but Ede & Ravenscroft a common robes supplier, have prices that vary from £25 – £75 for robe hire, and you’ll have to hire your mortarboard separately. Remember on the day to hand your robes back on time as you won’t want to face any late charges.

Want to know how much your degree could earn you once you’ve graduated? Click here.