Cost of University
The bright prospect of university is now part and parcel with daunting financial burden.
The average student will leave university with debts of up to £30,000.
It’s true that going to university is a matter of choice, but as more and more employers require prospective new recruits to have undertaken a degree course, it feels like there are fewer paths up the career ladder. Whether or not you yourself went to university, you’ll want to be able to offer your child a real choice to earn a degree. Over their working life, the average graduate will earn around £100,000 more after tax than someone with A levels who hasn’t been to university.* Don’t delay in saving up some serious funds; the amounts of money involved are enormous in one lump, but when you break it up into monthly chunks it’s really easy to take it in your stride, whatever your financial means may be.
*direct.gov.uk (March 2011)
Junior ISA + KidStart Savings
Junior ISAs are virtually tax-free savings accounts for children. They work like any regular savings account. Grandparents, kindly strangers, long-lost cousins and friendly companies like KidStart can transfer money into them (until the £3,600 annual limit is reached), providing that they live in the U.K and do not already have a Child Trust Fund (this scheme was cancelled in November 2011, but they are still valid if you applied for one before this date). KidStart work with a number of trusted providers and you can link your KidStart account directly to your Junior ISA, so that the more you shop through KidStart the larger the nest egg. If you can’t take the squeeze of putting aside a portion of your income each month, you could consider paying in half of your child benefit, from birth to university age, to help with the cost of university when the time comes.
Invest your Child Benefit
Consider the following: If you’re responsible for a child under 20 you will receive a weekly payment of £20.30 (£13.40 for each additional child). If you saved half of this, you could put away £40.00 each month. At a rate of 5% interest, you’d end up with around £14,000 by the time your child reached university age, and that’s from saving half of your child benefit without even touching your income. If you matched it with £40.00 from your own income, you’d have a small fortune ready to give to your child at the age when they’ll need it most. Consider a Junior ISA
as a tax-free way to build up your child’s university fund. For more information on child benefit, our guide
There’s nothing wrong with being shrewd. Forward planning makes life easier in the long run and when the time comes, you’ll be so glad that you thought ahead. With KidStart, you can save the money you earn from shopping through our partners, without the worry and stress that comes from even more budgeting and balancing. The best way to deal with the cost of university is surely to chip away at it slowly but surely over the years.
As soon as your child has entered their desired university choices into their UCAS form, you should waste no time in applying for student finance. Don’t wait until an offer is received, as you’ll have no room to breathe should The Student Loans Company require even more information for income assessment. Your child might not get their money in time for the start of term!
Government Support Grant
This is available for families whose income is below a certain limit. The full grant is only available to households earning less than £25,000. The threshold from 2012/13 is £42,600. If you think your household is eligible you should definitely apply as the money never has to be paid back.
Tuition fee loan
The tuition fee loan is paid directly to the university and has to be paid back when your child starts earning above a certain threshold (it’s about £21,000). As you might guess, it covers the annual cost of their tuition fees.
The maintenance loan covers your child’s living costs while they are at university and it’s paid into their own bank account.
The amount you can receive depends on where your child is based:
|Students living at home while studying.
|Students living outside of London and away from home.
|Students living in London and away from home.
Regardless of income, 65% of the maintenance loan is available to all UK applicants. The remaining 35% is dependent on income. The maintenance loan has to be paid back when your child earns above a certain threshold.
Most universities have bursaries, but it is specific to that institution as they are usually bequeathed by wealthy alumni. Because bursaries are private awards of money, they have their own rules on eligibility.
Evidence* shows that many of us are unwilling to apply for these funds, or have little idea that these funds are readily available from many educational institutions. The best thing to do is to assume that your child is entitled and to apply for every bursary you can. They can only say ‘no.’ It’s probably best to take the initiative yourself. A teenager’s efforts can be remarkably lax in the face of a two-page application form, even where free money is concerned. The result will be that money that they need but don’t have may eventually (inevitably, some might say) come out of your own pocket.
In short, you have to be in it to win it and no one is going to make the effort to research your family and your child in order to award them money. It’s well worth contacting the institutions your child has applied to. They’ll be only too happy to tell you their criteria for making an award.
National Scholarship Programme
If your household income is £25,000 per year or less, and your child is the first generation in your family to have gone to university, then you can apply for a bursary from the National Scholarship Programme. The money is allocated directly by the university, so you should check whether your child’s chosen institution participates in the scheme.