How much does University really cost?
Tuition fees – will we have to find £9,000 every year?
No. Every Uni can charge different fees, but you can get finanical help. How much depends on where you live (and your income). In Wales and Northern Ireland, tuition fees are capped at £3,685 (in 2014-15). In Scotland, tuition is free for Scottish students – it’s in England that the fees are capped at £9,000 currently. However, that may change at the next election.
The good news is that students can usually claim tuition-fee loans. In England, that loan can cover the full £9,000 every year at that moment – but will that be enough to cover books, equipment, laptops, trips, extra courses…? It may not be.
Accommodation – what will it cost, what does it cover?
After tuition fees, the biggest expense is usually accommodation. But in ‘halls of residence’, or in lodgings, a maintenance loan helps – and that can be up to £5,555 (£7,751 if your child is studying in London. (If your child is living at home, it’s £4,418 maximum). That will help cover rent and utilities and general living expenses. But in all cases, these loans have to be repaid when your child graduates from Uni and earns more than £21,000 a year – and that amount is unlikely to cover the true costs of living away from home for a long period of time.
Budgeting – teach them to look for the bargains
So how do you cope with these sudden demands on your bank balance, apart from opening a savings account early on in life? Budgeting makes sense, and it’s a useful lesson for your children to learn too – how to shop wisely, make nutritious but inexpensive meals, and perhaps put wages aside and seek out bargains as-and-when, rather than making impulse purchases (on fashion and toiletries in particular).
But there is some good news:Rail travel drops with a young person’s rail card (by 33% currently); most high street banks offer ‘student’ accounts with tangible benefits, and the National Union of Students (NUS) has relationships that provide discounts off many items.
We’ll leave the last word to the NUS too. How much does University really cost? Well, their annual survey estimates how much the ‘average’ student will spend, living and studying in England outside London – and reckon it’s about £22,000 (around £10k for course costs; £12,000 in total for living costs). So with the average ‘income’ at £14,000 (from loans and funding), you’ll need about £8,000 a year to cover the gap.