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About student finances

Find out more about managing your costs at St Catharine's, and how we are able to help.

At St Catharine's, we believe it is extremely important that no one is deterred from coming to study with us because they worry they cannot afford it. This page is to give you an idea of how much it will cost to be a student here, and the many ways that St Catharine's and the University can help - please read it carefully.

There is a perception that it will be expensive to study at university and even more expensive to be at Cambridge. In fact, while the university fee charge will be identical for most universities, living expenses and room rents are generally lower here in Cambridge than elsewhere.

Step 1: What will your fee status be?

Colleges collect fees on behalf of the University, and in the first instance it is the colleges which determine applicants' fee status. If you have any queries about your possible fee status, please first of all, look at this page and click the 'Higher Education' link. Then if you have any further queries, please contact the College Admissions Office.

For students starting their course in October 2021, or later, in general if your are a UK national with an unfettered right to live in the UK and will have been resident in the UK for the three years immediately preceding the start of your course, then you will probably be assigned 'home' fee status.

​For 'home' students, your previous highest qualification at the time when you start a Cambridge course is also important. In general, if you already have a first degree or equivalent qualification, you normally are not eligible for government-sponsored funding and will be subject to a different fee system (unless you are studying the later years of the courses in Architecture [to which St Catharine's does not admit students], Medicine or Veterinary Medicine).

Most other students are likely to be assigned 'overseas' fee status, but please note that the situation can be more complex for some applicants - including Irish nationals, those with 'settled' or 'pre-settled status', and a variety of other exceptions. Again, see this page.


Step 2: How much will studying at St Catharine's cost?

a. Tuition fees

At the time of writing, most Home students take out a government loan to pay for their tuition fees. Overseas students pay their own tuition fees, which vary according to the subject they are reading, as well as a college fee to cover teaching and various facilities provided by their college. 

Details of these fees are available on this page.

Also, click here for an independent external site about the costs of being a student.

b. Living costs

Accommodation provided by the College is only charged for the 'period of residence' - three ten week blocks containing the short Cambridge eight-week university teaching terms. Our room rents are very competitive, and the compact geography of the Colleges and University Departments means there is no need to incur any transport expenses (except, for many students, the maintenance of a bicycle!). 

Accommodation charges for first years in the academic year 2020/21 were set at £3,636–£5,523 (dependent on size, location and shared/ensuite facilities) divided into three ten-week terms. This charge includes rent, heating, lighting, water, internet use of the College's kitchen and self-catering facilities. These charges are reviewed regularly, and this usually results in small annual increases.

In addition, it will be necessary to cover costs of clothes, books, travel, entertainment etc. Do bear in mind that St Catharine's works hard to ensure that the College Library is well stocked with the books needed by undergraduate students - and this can save our students a great deal of expenditure. You should probably delay most book purchases until you have seen what the Library holds, and ask for advice about which books are useful from your Director of Studies, supervisors, and the second years taking your course.

For an estimate of what it costs to be a student at Cambridge, see the University website's section on student finance. Please note that, in accordance with University regulations, the College will not allow students to seek paid employment during term.

Step 3: How St Catharine's can help

The College offers a wide range of financial assistance to its students, in addition to the support available to them from the University and the Government. We offer this support partly from the College's own funds, but also from the generous donations of our benefactors, many of whom have provided us with funds specifically intended for this purpose. Below is a summary of financial assistance we offer to students who need it.

Full details of financial help available to undergraduates are available on this page.

  1. College bursaries: St Catharine's offers a variety of bursaries - including UK/EU entrance bursaries for all students from families with incomes below a certain level.
  2. College hardship funds: The College has funds to support students in short- or long-term financial hardship by the use of hardship loans or grants.
  3. Course costs: There are also funds available to help students with specific costs of their courses, including awards to support clinical medical and veterinary students with their elective placements.
  4. Travel grants: The College annual awards a large number of travel grants to its students, and those whose travel is related to their course usually receive more help
  5. Language courses: The University offers excellent language courses through its Language Programme; costs are subsidised for students, but can be covered further by awards from the College.
  6. Sports or music costs: The purchase of equipment or training and tuition costs can be partially or completely covered by sports bursaries from the College. More information on music awards can be found here.
  7. Internships: Students in receipt of Cambridge Bursaries carrying out unpaid internships during the vacations can apply for grants to support this work. Those not in receipt of such bursaries can apply to the travel grant fund for this purpose.
  8. Prizes and scholarships: These are awarded annually for academic excellence and achievement in other fields

Step 4: Other important sources of help 

Most UK students, and many overseas students, also have access to a variety of other sources of funding in addition to those listed above. For more details see the University website.

Note especially the Cambridge Bursary - a scheme by which students from households with an income of less that £25,000 receive an annual bursary of £3,500, and this amount tapers down so that all students with a household income of less than £62,215 receive something. Students classed as 'independent' will receive up to £5,600 and those previously on free school meals a further £1,000. (These figures are for students starting in 2021.) You do not need to apply for a Cambridge Bursary - it will automatically be allocated to you if you are eligible.

If you are holding an offer for a course which could involve either 3 or 4 years in Cambridge - for example, many strands of Natural Sciences have popular fourth year options - then you should apply for 4 years' funding at the start. It is easier to switch funding from 4 to 3, than to apply for a year's extension from 3 to 4.

Also, each year a small number of international students (often 20 across the University, receiving approximately £10,000 each per year) are funded by a bursary from the Cambridge Trust. International candidates holding offers (conditional or firm) will be sent information about how to apply, early in the calendar year in which they are due to start their course at Cambridge. For more information, see this link.

The University also has the Rowan Williams Studentship to support applicants from areas of instability or zone of conflict. Unusually, this studentship can provide full fees and costs, including administrative costs such as travel, visa costs and the immigration health surcharge. For full details, see this link.

As always, if you would like to ask specific questions but cannot find the information you need, get in touch with us using the details at the bottom of this page.

Step 5: Financial help with attending interviews

To enable applicants to come to interview in Cambridge, St Catharine's is pleased to provide support for travel costs to students who are in local authority care and/or are currently in receipt of free school meals and who attend a UK maintained sector school/college. Public transport travel costs will be reimbursed, and we will contact eligible applicants directly with further information when they are invited to interview.


If after reading this website you still have questions about applying to St Catharine's for an undergraduate degree, please email us at