The costs associated with university can often be a major area of concern for parents, guardians and even the students but there is funding available which is designed to allow higher education to be accessible to all. The first thing to note it that no one has to pay upfront and repayments after graduation will be linked to your son or daughter’s salary so that it is manageable.
Student finance calculator
If a student would like a more accurate picture of their potential student funding package they can utilise the GOV.UK student finance calculator.
You can use the student finance calculator to estimate:
- Student loans
- Extra student funding, for example if you’re disabled or have children
Understanding student finance
The cost of your son or daughter’s learning experience at university is covered by tuition fees. Some universities charge a set fee for all courses while others will vary the fee by subject area.
Regardless of cost, tuition fees are a “study now, pay later” scheme and students are entitled to a non means tested Tuition Fee Loan to cover the full cost of their course.
In the event that a student would like to use private funds to pay for some or all of their tuition fees up front they can do so by contacting their Firm choice university.
The other major cost associated with university is living costs – everything from rent, utilities, travel, food and course materials. The cost of living will generally reflect the geographical location of a university – with city centre prices often being higher.
In order to meet these commitments students are entitled to a means tested Maintenance Loan, with the exact amount that they receive calculated based on the following:
- Household income – the gross income of the adults in the household where a student lives.
- Location of university – students studying in London are entitled to more funding due to the increased cost of living.
- Accommodation choice – students opting to live at home during their studies are entitled to less funding
- Year of study – students can receive a loan but the amount will differ depending on the type of placement and whether it is paid or unpaid. Please see the info on our webpage on finance for placements and study abroad.
- Siblings – if you have one or more child in Higher Education at the same time they will receive additional funding in recognition that you are supporting multiple students.
The Maintenance Loan is paid in three instalments (at the start of each term) to help students budget and is repaid after graduation. For an estimate of entitlement for your son or daughter visit the Student Finance calculator.
Scholarships and bursaries
Universities offer a range of packages to help students manage their finances. These are pots of funding that do not have to be repaid but the qualification criteria and amount available vary between institutions so you will need to check their individual websites to get the information you need.
Generally a bursary will have set criteria that a student will or won’t meet; these may include household income, home postcode or being the first in the family to attend Higher Education. A scholarship is normally rewarded in recognition of a student’s achievement, this may be linked to strong A Level/BTEC grades or a specialist skill set – for example, playing sport at a high level.
One important thing to note is that bursaries and scholarships are not applied for via the Student Finance website. They are allocated from the institutions themselves and students should research the application details as well as the funds available.
Living costs include:
- Laundry – students who live in halls of residence will have access to washing facilities, these normally have an additional cost.
- Television license – students living in halls of residence and watching television require their own television license, those living in a shared household can have one per property.
- Internet – this may be included within the cost of rent, but in some cases this will be an additional fee.
- Travel – this may be to and from the university each day, back to the family home or university accommodation, travel around the city or travel at the weekends to visit friends and family.
- Field trips – university courses try and provide students with many exciting opportunities to put their learning into practice. This may include off site field trips, the cost of these will be kept as low as possible and funding support may be available.
- Gym membership, clubs and societies – there will be a lot of social activities on offer for students to engage with.
If a student has taken a Tuition Fee Loan and Maintenance Loan the amounts will be consolidated together so they will be left with one set of repayments.
Repayments begin in the April after they complete their degree providing they are earning above £27,295 (the current repayment threshold). The amount that they will repay each month is linked to their salary and not to how much they borrowed. If for any reason their future wages drop below this figure the repayments will stop and only resume once the £27,295 threshold is exceeded again.
Student Finance will collect the repayments from a graduate’s wages. As earnings increase over time so will the amounts and any remaining balance 30 years after graduation will automatically be written off.
If your son or daughter decides to move abroad to work and their salary exceeds £27,295 they are still liable to make their repayments. As they will not be paying tax within the UK it is their responsibility to contact Student Finance to make the necessary arrangements, failure to do so can result in a penalty fine.
It is common for students to have a part-time job while at university and this is not a problem as long as it doesn’t interfere with academic commitments.
Some universities run student ambassador schemes offering paid work that involves supporting university events such as open days. Ambassador schemes are kept flexible to allow students to select shifts that fit around their timetables and deadlines.
University terms are often shorter than those of schools and colleges giving students longer holidays. Securing full-time work during these breaks is not only good experience but will allow them to save a significant amount of money.
For most students this is the first time that they will have access to large sums of disposable income and have the responsibility of managing their finances.
Supporting your son or daughter in advance of university with budgeting and getting used to financial planning can be a real advantage to them.
There are lots of ways a student can help their funds to “go a little further” these include:
- Comparing the prices and packages for utility suppliers .
- Ensuring they have the best deal available for their mobile phone.
- Choosing a student bank account with a good interest free facility (that remains interest free for some time after graduation to allow for full repayment).
- Getting a Young Persons Rail Card (1/3 off train travel) and encouraging students to research cheaper methods of travel such as advanced train tickets or the Megabus.
- Buying text books online – there are lots of websites dedicated to students selling second hand books as well as the university library which will house all of the books needed and can be borrowed for free!
- Collecting their NUS card – this provides discounts at a lot of high street and online shops and restaurants.