50+ Sample Student Budgets

What Is a Student Budget?

A student budget is a document that is meant to help a student allocate their finances appropriately. A budget can help the student plan better for their various academic and non-academic related expenses.  

According to data published by Statista, the average total undergraduate budget for the most recent school year was $18,830 in the United States. Tuition and other fees accounted for around $3,800 of that amount.  

Types of Student Expenses

A student can have various kinds of expenses, depending on a number of factors including educational level. Expenses are also relative. For instance, a student who obtains a full scholarship does not have to pay for tuition, unlike regular students. The following examples are just some of the most common types of expenses throughout a student’s academic life. 

Food. Food is a basic necessity. Whether it is eating at the school cafeteria or dining out once in a while with classmates, spending for meals is a common and universal expense. Food also includes grocery items and food supplies. For students who live on campus dormitories or who don’t live at home, grocery shopping goes into their student budget as well. With food, it is important to be conscious of your spending. There are many choices and options when it comes to meals; some more expensive than others. Unless you are a working student, you are most likely dependent on family or someone else for financial support. Thus, it is important to learn how to budget your finances when it comes to food. This does not necessarily mean settling for poor quality food. There are a lot of food choices today that are budget-friendly yet nutritious as well. Transportation. Another basic expense for students is transportation. For those students not living on campus or nearby, many of them have to commute to and from school. Some have private cars to bring them to school, but others use public transport. Transportation costs can depend on a number of factors such as distance, location, and even time (e.g. rush hour rates). Urban cities and rural areas also differ in transport availability, accessibility and cost. If you live far from your school or university, then the commute will most likely be more expensive. If you’re a student who takes a private car to and from school, you still have to consider the cost of gas, vehicle maintenance, etc. Popular modes of transportation for students include trains, buses, taxis, or even carpooling. School Supplies. Aside from tuition, one of the primary expenses of all students is supplies. Every student needs the resources that aid in learning and education. This could be books, devices, uniforms, notebooks, pens, papers, and other basic needs. These supplies and accessories are needed to accomplish academic requirements and other projects. In the era of remote learning and online classes, a student would need a working computer, laptop, tablet or any device that can enable him or her to join online classes. A stable internet connection is a must as well. Unfortunately, this has been an ongoing challenge and struggle for many children and households during the pandemic. In summary, a considerable amount is usually always dedicated to the purchase of a student’s school supplies and other miscellaneous needs. Lodging. In addition to transportation, lodging is another cost that many college or graduate students face. Although not all students choose to live in dormitories, apartments or boarding houses, accommodation rentals can make up a large chunk of a student’s budget. Monthly rent can be quite expensive, especially if you do not have a roommate or housemate to share it with. Yet for many, the convenience of living closer to one’s school far outweighs the cons of lodging costs and expenses. Budgeting is, therefore, essential for students who have monthly rent to pay. Since lodging is a basic need, you have to be more prudent about spending on things that are unessential such as your wants or impulses.

Money Saving Tips for Students

If you are a student, it is never too early to start educating yourself on financial literacy. Especially when you are in college and have more relative freedom, there are plenty of opportunities to exercise responsibility and frugality when it comes to expenses. The following are some simple yet effective money saving tips that can help your student budget!   

Look for a roommate. If you are a student leasing a dorm room or boarding house, it can be quite costly to shell out rent on a monthly basis on your own. But if you have someone to share or split the rent with, you can save a considerable amount. Not only are you spending for rent, but monthly bills for utilities (e.g., electricity, water, internet) are included in the picture as well. With a roommate, you can cut your expenses by half. And if there are more of you living under the same roof, the cost can be further reduced per individual. So if you are a college student living alone and are looking for ways to manage your budget, consider getting a roommate to help ease the monthly bills. Consider selling stuff you don’t need. If you want a quick and easy way to come up with some money, try putting your personal items up for sale. Only working students have a steady stream of income. But if you are a regular student looking for ways to earn in order to increase your savings, you might want to consider selling your stuff. You don’t even need to look far, there are countless online apps where you can buy and sell instantly. You can sell to friends or acquaintances as well. If an item no longer serves a purpose or if you no longer need it, selling it can help you hit two birds with one stone: decluttering and saving money. Use expense-tracking apps. Another way you can better manage your student budget is by using expense trackers. There are dozens of free mobile apps that you can easily download and install on your mobile phone. The app is a tool that can help you monitor your daily, weekly or monthly expenses. Whether it is dining out, shopping for groceries, purchasing school supplies or paying rent, simply input everything you spent money on into the app and you get a clear picture of your spending habits. If you are concerned about your spending habits or want to learn how to budget better, consider downloading an expense-tracking app. It is free, fast and convenient.

How to Create a Student Budget

To create a sustainable student budget, you need to be committed to it. If you are looking for quick and easy templates for reference, use any of the sample budgets from the collective above. Choose one that meets your needs then follow the basic steps below.  

Step 1: Determine the Objective

The first step in crafting a student budget is identifying the objective. Why do you need one? What outcomes do you expect from creating a budget? It is important to know why you are drafting one in the first place. For some, it is to cut down on unnecessary spending and expenses. For most students, keeping a budget can simply help them save more money for the future or for emergencies. Starting with an objective can help clarify your intentions and it might even help you stick to your budget. If you know the purpose behind your budget, then the more you can justify it to yourself.   

Step 2: List Down Expenses

The next step is to create a list of all your expenses. As a student, you can have various expenses at different stages of your academic life. A high school student budget would look quite different from a college student budget. Regardless of individual needs and circumstances, make sure to list all these down in an organized manner. Some of the major expenses were described and detailed in the previous sections. If you are a college student, your budget might include essential expenses such as lodging and transportation. Be sure to indicate the exact amount of each item.   

Step 3: Categorize and Assign 

Once you have listed down all the expenses, you need to categorize them accordingly. This can be done in a number of ways. But the most common way is by assigning each item as essential or non-essential. It is important to know which items are needs and which are wants. Essential expenses could include groceries, school supplies, gas, and monthly rent. Non-essential items could include expenses that are used for recreation and entertainment such as personal trips or retail shopping. Categorizing your expenses in a detailed way will give you an idea of how much and where your money actually goes.      

Step 4: Stick to the Budget

For most students, the challenge is not creating the budget but sticking to it. It is important to continuously monitor your expenses, even as they change over time. You may need to modify some items as you go along. But what matters is that you try to stick to your budget and adjust accordingly. It is fine to splurge once in a while, but you want to avoid extreme spending as much as possible. Unnecessary purchases can pile up and before you know it, you might be way over your budget already. That’s why it is important to track or update your budget regularly.        


What is a good budget for a college student?

A good college student budget is one that is realistic, practical and feasible. Since you have to consider the individual needs and circumstances of a student, it is not a case where one size fits all. But generally, a good budget ensures that an allocation goes to savings and prioritizes only essential expenses.

How do you set a budget for students?

Ideally, a budget should be based on one’s needs rather than wants. To create a better budget, it is best to classify your expenses into essential and non-essential. Refer to the how-to guide in the previous section for more detailed instructions on how to create a student budget.

Why should college students budget?

It is never too early to learn good spending habits. By practicing budgeting, college students will be able to learn and exercise responsibility in their finances.

Students can learn the value of discipline and responsibility from budgeting. It is never too early to learn the ropes on financial literacy. Browse the numerous sample templates above and start customizing your own student budget today!