Student finance - how much is enough to live on?

(72 Posts)
NamingOfParts Thu 20-Dec-12 13:06:30

I'm starting to look at how much we will need to fund DD at university in a year or so's time. I know I am a bit previous but I would like to start planning as my income is variable and unreliable.

Having looked at finances it looks like on this year's figures DD would get a maintenance loan of £5425 (away from home & outside London). Accomodation at one of the universities she is looking at would be £4705 leaving just £720/year or £20/week.

How much will we need to find for DD?

We dont want to be stupidly generous or stupidly mean. I would like DD to enjoy her time at university but I do think that part of the experience is learning to live on a tight budget.

Is £60/week (£20 loan & £40 parents) lots or a little?

Any thoughts gratefully received!

I think they count the maintenance part as appx £9k - to be made up of loan and/or parental contribution.

TheSecondComing Thu 20-Dec-12 13:10:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NamingOfParts Thu 20-Dec-12 13:29:00

Thanks both.

If she is in the halls then all bills are included. Good point about mobile. I will probably look at getting her a capped contract for that.

I was thinking that we would probably look to stock her up with store cupboard food/housekeeping and then provide her with the cash for day to day spending.

You are absolutely right that I dont want her to end up with credit card debt on top of her student debt. At the same time we are not a bottomless pit able to fund a hedonistic lifestyle.

This is difficult, I was a student with Noah's mum and so much has changed. DH recalls red cross parcels from his DPs/GPs fondly but my DPs never saw the need and I never felt I could ask.

eatyourveg Thu 20-Dec-12 13:34:39

The way we looked at it was by looking at the figure for the max available which last year was £7125 - made up of 3875 loan and 3250 non repayable grant (for students with household income <25K) then took off the loan the amount that sfe said ds would be entitled to and then we would finance the difference.

so if your loan is 4705 then you wouldn't be able to get any non repayable grant and would have a shortfall of £2K+ to make up

lots of other parents do it by paying for the accommodation and the maintenance loan funds food/toiletries books and entertainment. others rely on offspring getting part time jobs

Chopchopbusybusy Thu 20-Dec-12 13:52:59

I'm unsure how much is reasonable but I'm thinking of adding up how much she currently costs, which is a fair bit, and then at least I won't feel so bad about the cost. She won't qualify for the full loan, which I think is unfair, but that's another thread! I'm going to include college lunch money, bus pass, extra cost of car insurance, martial art fees and an estimate of her share of food/toiletries bill. I will expect her to have some part time work too.

fussychica Thu 20-Dec-12 14:56:40

DS lived on £80 pw in total (food, entertainment, toiletries, laundry, books)after accommodation costs when he was living in hall. We also paid for his annual phone contract and train fares home - about £50 per term as he is miles from home.

Don't forget all English Unis have to offer at least £388 (if my memory serves me) in bursaries in addition to SF funding, though in practice most are at least £1000 per year.

creamteas Thu 20-Dec-12 15:37:18

The amount it costs will vary a lot depending on where they go. Not just in the cost of accommodation but the general cost of living. My eldest manages on about £60pw after housing/bills, but he's not on an expensive course. He cycles to and from uni which helps and tends to shop in the market at the end of the day!

Lots of bursaries are available, but many of these reduce fees/halls costs rather than give money to live on.

NamingOfParts Thu 20-Dec-12 17:16:58

Not sure how DD would manage for getting a job - she is wanting to study chemistry which as I understand it means lots of lab hours on top of lectures & tutorials. I am guessing that course costs shouldnt be too high (unless they are expected to fund their own bangs & smells!).

So far DD is looking at courses at Nottingham, Sheffield, UEA, Imperial. So a broad spread of cost!

Chopchopbusybusy Thu 20-Dec-12 17:23:36

I'd be surprised if she didn't have a few spare hours per week to work. DD1 is going to be doing engineering, so not an easy choice. She still expects to work.

fussychica Thu 20-Dec-12 17:50:38

Agree about the cost of living being really variable - even taking London out of the equation. Nephews both in halls costing about £1500 more than those DS lived in. En-suites also add to accommodation costs and are very popular these days, especially with girls. DS always had his own bathroom at home but was happy to go without in hall as he knew he was unlikely to have one in a student house (boy was he right!) and he preferred to have the extra cash.

NamingOfParts Thu 20-Dec-12 21:17:06

I have seen the modern halls. Good grief, the luxury! In my halls the 'laundry facility' was a single domestic top loading washing machine with an electric mangle on the back. The better provided halls had a twin tub! (and you tell young people today)

I'm not wanting to budget on the assumption that DD will be able to get a job. I know how precarious the job market is so would rather assume that we are providing all the term-time finance.

boomting Fri 21-Dec-12 18:37:14

Tell her to go for a self catered, shared bathroom hall. They work out as being the best value, and there's nothing wrong at all with shared bathrooms.

I'd recommend working it out on the basis of how much she would receive if you were on a low income (normally defined as sub-£25k). That comprises the maintenance loan, grant, and the amount given in bursary by the university. That adds up to a sum that it is entirely possible to live off when combined with holiday work.

Don't forget to allow for the fact that sometimes she will have big expenses, e.g. freshers week (£200-ish), society memberships (and associated expenses like away matches and kit for sports socs), deposits for second year house (£300-400 depending on the local market), train tickets home, and just those unexpected expenses. Some societies will also do trips & training camps abroad - they're normally done on a budget, but always seem to come in around the £400 mark! That means that you don't want to cut the budget down to the bone without having something in the miscellaneous column - otherwise, it's just impossible to cope financially when this sort of thing happens.

You'll also want to budget for buying her household items - cooking equipment, a duvet, that sort of thing. I found that the cost of that added up quite rapidly.

PS I'm a second year student.

NamingOfParts Fri 21-Dec-12 21:55:23

Thanks Boomting that was exactly what I was looking for!

creamteas Fri 21-Dec-12 23:49:46

Lots of my students are on the maximum loan, grant and bursary, and it doesn't give them enough to live in without term time work

boomting Sat 22-Dec-12 00:18:31

creamteas How much is the bursary? Clearly it can vary quite a lot by university. I get a £1250 bursary (although if I had started in 2012 I would have got £3000!). That, combined with some ad hoc holiday work and some fairly careful budgeting has always been entirely sufficient for my needs - including sports society involvement, a society trip abroad, and some small luxuries.

Of course, there are ways to economise (e.g. buying clothes nearly new off eBay and buying spirits in Aldi) and ways not to economise (e.g. dumpster diving) and it can take a while for people to develop that sort of background knowledge / ability to manage on a small income.

QuiteOldGal Sat 22-Dec-12 08:02:12

We paid £3300 a year towards the hall which cover the more basic shared bathroom type. As DS wanted his own bathroom he had to pay the extra himself out of his loan, as we said any luxuries he should pay for himself. Some catered halls can cost £160 a week shock

Obviously it depended on the University because some start at a much more expensive price and we maybe would have had to pay more for the basic halls.

We continue to give him the same towards his shared house now.

creamteas Sat 22-Dec-12 15:49:37

Most of the bursaries at my uni are fee waivers, so whilst they don;t borrow as much from SLC and their debts are reduced long term, they do not get any money to live on.

Student accommodation is in very short supply. Often the only option is private student halls, and the fees in them are very expensive and take most of their loan.

NamingOfParts Sat 22-Dec-12 18:15:10

Right, I have looked at Sheffield (they have a useful money tool) and worked out that the total maintenance part including bursaries for a household income of £20k is £8277.

This is a good starting point. I am guessing that assumes that parents wouldnt be providing further term-time support.

Just to add to the funding complications DD is thinking of doing an Erasmus year. This would mean no fees for one year, plus an extra grant.

It is all so much more complicated than my day!

boomting Sat 22-Dec-12 18:59:33

Creamteas that would explain matters - less money in the pocket and higher accommodation costs. These fee waivers are a rip off - many students will never pay off their full loan anyway, so they will never benefit from the fee waiver.

I really do have a strong dislike of these private halls - they seem to be out to extract as much money as possible whilst providing a substandard service to naive students.

mumeeee Sun 23-Dec-12 16:17:31

Wekk for DD1 and 2 we paid all their rent for halls and they used the Student loan for everything else incuding phone,. We did buy them the boks off of the r4eading list for the first yearmbut both found they didn't actually need them all and also that they could borrow some boks from the uni libraiy. In the second and third year we paid most of thier rent but they paid a contribution and all thier bills.They did both have part time jobs ,although DD2 didn't have one in the first year. DD3 is hoping to start uni next year and we will be doing the same sort of thing with her.

Xenia Sun 23-Dec-12 17:23:16

I paid their rent direct (and the university fees) and then £100 a week throughout the year by standing order. WHen fees were £1k a year that worked out at £10000 a year which was what their school fees had been and they graduated debt free.

With the £100 a week and rent paid they managed but often had a job in holidays and they had some "life savings" some of them also used.

(not sure the cheapest self catered halls are always best - one of my daughter's halls - most expensive one has yielded massive advantage in terms of her friends, and one who in year 2 owned a lovely house she could rent, career help etc... in other words getting them in with friends who will be well connected get good jobs etc might be ak ind of investment you can make. Putting her in the cheapest of cheapo halls might save money but not may be so wise long term(.

NamingOfParts Sun 23-Dec-12 17:46:31

In terms of connections and networking I think DD1 has her head screwed on. She is planning to study chemistry as a first degree and then look to specialise post-graduate. She is looking at courses which would give her the opportunity to study for a year or more abroad.

Science careers are a whole other world. The connecting and networking isnt done in the halls, it seems to be done in the labs. My DB described his big career break as being his senior tutor leaping out of the woodwork one day and asking him if he wanted to do a PhD as there was some funding going spare!

If DD is going to make her career in the sciences (and it is what she wants to do) I am not sure that the UK is the place to do it.

NamingOfParts Sun 23-Dec-12 17:50:46

mumeeee, good point about the books. I will certainly encourage DD to look carefully at the books she buys. Periodicals also suck up money so I will suggest DD reads these in the library.

creamteas Sun 23-Dec-12 19:40:44

At my uni, there is a move to e-books, which means that all the students can access key texts so the need to buy books has reduced considerably (and considerate lecturers like myself always set reading that students can access for free).

If they are doing a literature based course, then investing in a kindle can be worthwhile.

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