If your child is thinking about or has decided on higher education, there are a number of important financial and practical decisions to make. We’ve compiled a list of key points to consider together with your son or daughter – helping them make the right choices for their future.
University is a popular form of higher education. While it can be a great learning experience, with tuition fees now as much as £9,000 a year, it’s important to plan out how it’s going to be funded and if it’s the right route to their future career.
Since the traditional university model is still seen as an effective way to access a career, it’s a tough decision to make. What’s more, if your son or daughter has their heart set on attending university, the cost of a degree suddenly seems to matter less. However it’s crucial to know exactly how much financial support you might need to provide in advance.
UK tuition fees: a quick guide*
- England - UK students to pay a maximum of £9,000 per annum, except Welsh students who won’t pay more than £3,575.
- Scotland - Scottish students can still study for free in 2016. However non-Scottish students will pay the full amount up to £9,000.
- Wales - UK students to pay a maximum of £9,000.
- Northern Ireland - Northern Irish students pay £3,575 pa. However other UK students will pay the full amount of up to £9,000.
UK undergraduates may be eligible for a student loan to cover both tuition fees and maintenance (living) costs. The precise amount they can borrow depends on a number of factors, including where they study, for how long, and your household income.
Even with a full loan, however, students often find they have a shortfall in their finances and need to call on the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’. To help bridge any gaps, investigate what scholarships, bursaries, fee waivers and hardship funds may be available and encourage them to look for a part-time job to help cover their outgoings.
If your child has chosen a different route to higher education, such as college, or an apprenticeship or graduate scheme, they may still find it difficult to cover all their costs.
To help with living costs, many students and apprentices can apply for student discount cards, giving them offers and discounts when eating out, shopping for groceries and buying clothes for example.
While many first year university students look to secure a place in halls of residence, availability isn’t always guaranteed. Private accommodation can be a good alternative and parents often get involved here – either acting as guarantors on lease agreements, or even buying a property for them to live in and renting out other rooms as an investment opportunity.
Increasingly, students are also opting to live at home and commute to university. This is also common among those in other forms of higher education, such as traineeships. While living at home can be a cost-effective option, it is important to be prepared for a change in your lifestyle, given that students can keep rather irregular hours.
The summer before they leave for higher education, take the opportunity to teach them about independent living. Try making them responsible for doing their own washing, budgeting and cooking a family meal one night a week.
A summer job might also help them to build up useful saving and spending habits and better understand the value of financial discipline.
If your son or daughter doesn’t feel ready for higher education yet, or is uncertain about their choice of course or simply wants to gain some valuable work experience before committing to full-time study, a gap year may be beneficial.
A gap year can also give you both more time to save up to cover the cost of university, if that is their chosen goal. If so, it is important that they check their chosen university’s stance on gap years and put a constructive gap year plan in place – this will be crucial to justify deferring their place.
When helping them to budget for higher education, remember to include the following in any calculations:
Preparing for your child to enter higher education might also be a good time for a free personal financial review.
For questions around student finance, Which has the answers.
Learn about applying for a student loan by visiting gov.uk
Discover top budgeting tips from Lloyds Bank to aid their student lifestyle.
*For the 2015/2016 academic year