Going to university can be a dream come true, easy way out (or stalling time), rite of passage – it’s different for everyone and yet one thing that follows the thought of going to university is the cost. Looking into going to university these days doesn’t just mean making the cut when it comes to your grades; the question is also can you afford it? Yes we get loans upon loans; some may even be lucky enough to get help from their parents but at the end of the day is it enough? Was it really worth choosing to go to London or Reading over picking somewhere like Edinburgh or Leicester?

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Making the decision of where to go and being sensible about visualising long term over short term can be hard (especially if you had your heart on a specific place) but there are options that can help make the decision making a little bit easier. Check out university cost comparison tool which gives prospective students – and their parents – vital knowledge before submitting UCAS applications.

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If you’re looking for a degree course that won’t cost you the earth you should set your sights on Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University, according to a new study into the cost of living at the UK’s top universities.

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The major study was carried out by online cash payment provider Ukash, in order to make it easier for students to see where money goes the furthest at the UK’s top 20 universities, ahead of the deadline for applications to UCAS (15th January 2014). Ukash, which will shortly launch a prepaid MasterCard® to help students budget and control their spend more effectively, compared the cost of nine key living expenses ranging from a pint of lager and car insurance to tuition fees and rent. uni2

The findings identified Edinburgh Heriot-Watt, Edinburgh and St. Andrews universities as the three cheapest to attend, with students needing to pay £9,587 each year – a whopping £10,000 less than the most expensive universities identified by the study – in addition to cheaper annual gym membership, averaging £96, and free entry into events at the Students Union.

The ten least expensive universities, and their total cost of living over three years, are:

1. Edinburgh Heriot-Watt University          £28,761

2. University of Edinburgh                          £31,210

3. University of St. Andrews                       £33,603

4. University of Kent                                     £35,344

5. University of East Anglia                         £41,604

6. University of Birmingham                       £41,727

7. University of Warwick                              £41,790

8. University of York                                     £42,793

9. University of Leicester                             £43,139

10. University of Lancaster                          £43,938

None of these on your list? They might be food for thought. University is a big step for everyone and it has it’s pros and cons, but how good would it be if you could avoid some of the cons, save yourself some money and be laughing to the bank every time your new loan comes in because it sounds like with the saving you could be doing you’ll be swimming in it.

Miranda McLean, Marketing Director at Ukash, commented on the results: “We produced this cost comparison study for students who want to go to a top university but also don’t want it to cost the earth. We were surprised to find such staggering differences in costs, with factors such as car insurance, rent and tuition fees varying greatly depending on where you study.

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“With many students needing to complete their UCAS application on or before 15th January 2014, we’ve also developed an online tool that makes it easy for students to compare the cost of living at the UK’s top 20 universities.”

Students and parents can view the full range of research data and use the interactive cost comparison tool here.

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