AIBU to wonder why the UK doesn't have a culture of saving for kids' University?

(324 Posts)
windygallows Tue 05-Jul-16 21:15:26

I'm originally from North America where 'saving for College/University' is a big part of the culture, in fact it's quite normal for parents to take a college fund out just after baby is born. And understandably - University is really expensive in the US eg (tuition + living expenses of $30,000 pa).

I've had both my children in the UK (have lived here for 20 years) and do my best to put a bit of money into a college fund every month, even if its a stretch. When I mentioned this to a few friends they looked at me with amusement and asked 'why?' I've casually asked around if others are saving for college - some have put money aside but haven't specifically said it's for higher education. I haven't pried, just asked a few people so don't have a full picture.

However I'm finding it surprising that this isn't more of a concern for parents. In the UK University isn't 'free' anymore (eg. through grants), tuition is very pricey now, grants are rarely available, and student loans are shrinking. But it just seems like this hasn't been absorbed by many parents. Or maybe it has and I just don't know!

Before flaming me - I'm aware not everyone can afford to put money/savings away and I'm also aware that not everyone can or wants to go to University, so no need to debate that. I'm just questioning the seeming obliviousness to the dramatic change in the cost of University here.

AIBU?

usual Tue 05-Jul-16 21:17:49

You have given the reasons why not all parents save for their childrens university fees though.

TrollTheRespawnJeremy Tue 05-Jul-16 21:18:50

Tuition is free in Scotland, so it's not really a necessity there.

RE: England, I couldn't comment. I assume many do save up for it but the costs have escalated in years.

annandale Tue 05-Jul-16 21:20:35

To me the changes in cost still seem recent. I have a student loan myself from 9 years ago but it's fairly small.

It's really hard to see serious saving as a great idea with 1% interest rates at best.

cardibach Tue 05-Jul-16 21:21:20

Wales has reduced fees. A student loan us on very good terms - and most students will not pay it all back. Saving is a bit of a false economy.

Blue4ever Tue 05-Jul-16 21:21:40

I think it's quite simple really, don't look too deep. It's because it used to be free and paying huge amounts for it still hasn't sunk in yet. In the denial phase.

BossWitch Tue 05-Jul-16 21:22:04

I think an element of it is not knowing what will be going on in the future. I like to stick my head in the sand and imagine it m8ght be free again by the time DD gets there!

Jenijena Tue 05-Jul-16 21:22:25

Because the loans over here are essentially a graduate tax. But as no parent would vote for that the government dresses it up in loan language.

Banderchang Tue 05-Jul-16 21:22:55

I disagree: we save for DS for university, and many of our friends are saving for their kids' HE as well.

windygallows Tue 05-Jul-16 21:23:33

Troll - I know tuition is fee in Scotland (lived in Glasgow for many years) but what about living costs and all the fees associated with course work and general University life? They'll be huge costs for accommodation if a person leaves home to study.

maggiethemagpie Tue 05-Jul-16 21:23:33

I'm too busy paying off my own student loan, the mortgage and saving for my pension to put money aside for my kids education.

They'll be ok though, we have a flat in London they can live in and rent out the spare rooms to friends for £££ when they go to Uni (if they want)

Babyroobs Tue 05-Jul-16 21:23:54

Students going to University get loans which they pay back when they graduate and start earning above a certain amount. We have saved a few thousand pounds for each child although with 4 it isn't easy. Some parents i know have saved their child benefit since the child was born and thus saved a lot of money ( approx £1000 a year), but for others they need that money towards clothing etc. My eldest will probably go to Uni next year, he will get loans for his tuition fees and we will help as much as we can toward living costs.

windygallows Tue 05-Jul-16 21:24:06

Bander - interesting to hear that. I legitimately wanted to hear from others to see what they were doing (as would be too nosey to ask)!

HarryPottersMagicWand Tue 05-Jul-16 21:24:09

YABU. No one I know would ever be in a position to save for University for however many children they have. We tend to do things differently here, children put themselves through with loans and part time jobs, maybe an allowance from parents if they are able. It's not something we would ever be able to do so it isn't even on my radar. I don't see it as a parents responsibility to put their adult child through university.

AbbeyRoadCrossing Tue 05-Jul-16 21:24:18

I was the first year of student loans / fees and even then the fees were about £1k a year max. And they were reduced depending on circumstances.
Even now (although I admit I'm not up to date with it) I don't think it's in the same ball park as fees in the USA. Also don't a lot more people pay for school there too?
I think it'll take a while to get ingrained in the culture.

Twinchaos1 Tue 05-Jul-16 21:24:30

I think because it used not that long ago really it used to be free, so it's not part of the cultural experience of the country. I have saved for my kids but it was an effort to remember that they would need this as I did not. I think it may get more common although it was Gordon Brown's kids saving scheme that encouraged me to start.

Xmasbaby11 Tue 05-Jul-16 21:24:33

I think the change has happened relatively recently and society hasn't adjusted to it yet. Parents are not used to saving for this and may use savings for cars, moving house etc.

For many people they are not able to save.

I do get what you mean as I've lived in Asian countries where it was normal to save for your child's education. I had twenty something single female friends who were already saving for their children's university education!

DiamondInTheRuff Tue 05-Jul-16 21:26:04

I think a lot of people just can't afford to. I'd love to be saving regularly for my DCs future but just don't have the spare cash. Some months we struggle to afford food, never mind anything else!

Xmasbaby11 Tue 05-Jul-16 21:26:21

We don't have any allocated savings for university but dc are only 2 and 4. We will have paid off our mortgage by the time they are 18 so I hope we will be able to support them.

karalime Tue 05-Jul-16 21:26:30

Student loans are relatively cheap and are only paid back as a percentage of your income, so it makes more sense financially to take out a loan and spend any savings on a house deposit or something.

MachiKoro Tue 05-Jul-16 21:26:49

Just because it's not in a savings vehicle entitled 'college fees' doesn't mean people aren't saving.
Though, as we've just had a very large downturn, which coincided with a huge hike in fees, I imagine many people simply aren't in a position to save.
You may be astonished to find that many people in the UK dont spend money on private healthcare insurance either! shock

SmilingButClueless Tue 05-Jul-16 21:26:55

I think there are a number of possible reasons. There wasn't historically a culture of saving for university, because up until about 20 years ago you didn't really have to - tuition was "free" and loans / grants covered the basics if you went to the right university and were careful.

Even now, I don't think tuition fees physically have to be paid upfront by parents / students; you can just get a loan and student debt is still about the cheapest debt you can take out (& you pay back based on earnings, and it's written off eventually if you don't pay it all back). Cost of living can, in a lot of cases, be covered by part time / summer employment.

Obeliskherder Tue 05-Jul-16 21:27:37

I think the key is the word "culture". Fees are relatively new, in the timescale of cultures. Many people who are parents now weren't funded by their own parents. "Culture" takes time.

Also there are threads on here with people piling in to say they're saving for their children. It's just not labelled a "college fund", it's for uni/car/house deposit/travelling/whatever.

Personally, we're concentrating on paying off the mortgage now so we can free up monthly income to help them out with uni costs when the time comes. This seems to me a sensible choice given current mortgage and savings rates. You can label it obliviousness if you insist, but I think that's unfair and a bit rude.

HerRoyalNotness Tue 05-Jul-16 21:28:02

I started after they stopped going to daycare and started school. But, we've used it to buy a house, so need to catch it up. I did it as we are expats and have no clue where they might go to college and will most likely have to pay international fees. I might direct them to my home country there is possibly of fees paid by a native family trust

drivingmisspotty Tue 05-Jul-16 21:28:23

It takes longer for something to become part of a culture, I think. I graduated about 12 yrs ago and my tuition was about £1,000 a year I think, the fees were a fairly new thing then I think they had been around about 5 yrs. It was before top up fees and the loan terms were really good. My children are still pretty small, and I am not sure if there has even been time for anyone who had to pay fees to have had children who are now uni age (unless they had them before they went to uni themselves). So it hasn't even been around for one generation yet.

That said, I wouldn't be surprised if more parents do save now than did before, due to the knowledge you mention and the promotion of child trust funds by government.

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