Student Loans - Parental Income - what is taken into account?

(22 Posts)
thriftymrs Thu 04-Apr-13 15:32:29

I am asking this question to see if anyone can help. I know that parental income will be taken into account when assessing how much of a student loan / maintenance grant my DS will be entitled to. My gross salary is £29,000, and I take home £1,800 per month. However, out of this my rail fares work out at £400 odd per month. I have to pay this otherwise I wouldn't be able to get to work. I have a mortgage and I am not entitled to any benefits or working tax credits. I don't pay into a pension because I simply can't afford to. I am obviously hoping that DS will be able to claim the maximum loan/grant available but I am concerned that my rail fares won't be taken into consideration and, consequently, he won't receive the maximum grants which will throw us into further hardship. Does anyone know whether the student finance body make any allowance for this? DS is not academically brilliant so there is no chance of obtaining a scholarship or similar, sadly. DS is a year away from needing to apply but I am trying to prepare us early. Any advice would be very welcome.

creamteas Thu 04-Apr-13 18:02:02

Travel costs are no taken into account, and neither are most other expenditure I'm afraid.

Scholarships vary so you might qualify for something, but sometimes this just reduces the fees which doesn't help much at all with day to day expenses.

The main way people reduce cost massively is for students to live at home and commute to their uni. Would this be possible?

tallulah Thu 04-Apr-13 18:39:52

The only thing they take into account is other children you are responsible for. You get to deduct a small amount off your income for each one.

I got Excess Fares allowance from work once, a taxed benefit to make up for the fact that travelling to my new office cost a lot more than the old one. Student Loans count this as extra income.

Have you looked at the student funding pages on the Gov website to see how much he'll get?

WhitesandsofLuskentyre Fri 05-Apr-13 15:00:22

Oh well, DD1 will just have to drop out of university if they won't give her enough money, because we can't find more, based on the government's arbitrary calculator of "If you earn X, you must be able to put your child through university". This month, we haven't even been able to heat our house.

PointeShoes Fri 05-Apr-13 15:09:42

I'm sure your son could get a part time job aswell as been at uni, a lot of students have to do this. Lots cheaper if he stays at home then travels to uni too. The loan covers the actual fees which are paid directly to uni, so he doesn't need to worry about those until he gets a job at the end. So he will need money for travel, books and to pay you rent which would help you out too.

BreconBeBuggered Fri 05-Apr-13 15:35:56

A few universities offer non-repayable grants for living expenses in addition to student loans if household income is under a certain level. Perhaps your DS can look into that? Taxable income is a ridiculously crude method of calculating what you can afford, I agree - you could easily have the same amount coming in and not have to pay the best part of a grand on the mortgage plus a few hundred on commuting. Not that I'm bitter or anything <broke>

tallulah Fri 05-Apr-13 17:09:24

The LEA told us we had to pay £585 a term (or some such figure they'd plucked from the ether) to DC1 to support her while she was at university. We told her she would have to work through the holidays and save hard because we always ran out of money well before the end of the month and had none available. She managed.

titchy Fri 05-Apr-13 17:09:45

That's a bit defeatist..... You do realise if she drops out she'll still be liable to repay the loan, but won't have anything to show for it AND will not be able to get a loan for all the years she might need it for in the future.

All students are entitled to the basic mintenance loan. Admittedly it's lower than many halls of residences charge, but she could live out, or stay at home. Students also have part time jobs too you know.

titchy Fri 05-Apr-13 17:12:40

He not she - sorry!

All universities also offer bursaries to low income familie and the thresholds are a lot higher - ask them.

thriftymrs Mon 08-Apr-13 12:51:00

Thanks everyone for your advice and views. You've confirmed what I unfortunately suspected. I think looking for a university close enough to enable DS to stay home is probably our best option. There are a couple he could commute to daily - I hope he won't be fleeced as much on rail fares as I feel I (and all the other poor commuters) are! From a purely personal, selfish, point of view I would love it if he stays at home (I can support him emotionally, make sure he's well fed, doing his work etc) but at the same time I hear from friends with offspring who have been through university that half the point of going is to experience independent living and being forced to mature. DS doesn't seem to have particularly strong views either way at the moment. He would be happy to get a part time job, it's me who has kept him doing voluntary unpaid work to give him some experience in the field he would like to eventually qualify/work in. I keep telling him this will look better on his CV than mundane, unrelated work. I can't see how he can fit in studying, volunteering and also working to get paid. The worst possible scenario would be for him to end up with a huge student loan and then fail his degree so my view is that studying must come first, whatever happens. And in the meantime I am going to be trying my best to find a local job. It would mean giving up a job I love but the lower pay would cancel out my travelling costs and then I would be well below the threshold. Thanks again.

creamteas Mon 08-Apr-13 18:13:55

Where I work, increasingly there is a growing divide between well-funded students who manage the 'classic' university experience and students working all hours to pay for their degrees.

Many students are skipping classes so they can work and struggle to put in the hours of independent study necessary to get a good degree. If staying at home means they will not be in that position, although they might loose out on the social side a bit, it will leave them in a much better position long-term.

goinggetstough Mon 08-Apr-13 19:01:08

OP the student loan checker will give you some actual figures. www.studentfinance.direct.gov.uk/portal/page?_pageid=153,4680136&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

The ratio of maintenance loan and or grant depends on how much you earn. A table from Plymouth university shows the differences between living at home rates and living away from home. www1.plymouth.ac.uk/money/support13-14/Pages/undergrad.aspx
These amounts will be the same at all universities. But as other posters have mentioned different universities give differing amounts of bursaries etc to low income families in addition to the above. Plus living costs in Halls can vary greatly too, so it is worth looking at the figures from specific universities that offer the course your DS is interested in.

RMSeries2 Tue 09-Apr-13 22:24:02

Please,please encourage your son to call the student funding office of the universities he might consider, to get the to outline what support may be available. It would be best if he called himself, but you could call on his behalf. There are a number of funding opti

RMSeries2 Tue 09-Apr-13 22:26:58

Whoops...

...there are a number of options that maybe available to him. For example, the uni I work at has some bursary options available for students from families if income under 42k. Some of these are assigned purely on financial need where others are academic only.

Many of our students work. Others volunteer. Some do both as well as completing studies very well. Their time management skills are way better than mine!

BrienneOfTarth Tue 09-Apr-13 22:42:45

thriftymrs you may not find that staying at home is significantly better financially as I think students are entitled to less grant/loan if they can live at home than they would if they are away. Not sure of this so do check.

How strong is your DS academically? A family income of £29k is definitely low enough to make him eligible for the scholarship programmes of many universities but not every university has enough funds to have much in the way of scholarships. Generally the older ones (including red-brick and 1960s but not the post-1992 ex-polys) have plenty of wealthy graduates who give back to their university and donating to scholarships is popular, so if he's bright enough to get into one of these unis then he could get an annual scholarship which would help.

thriftymrs Wed 10-Apr-13 11:52:29

BrienneOfTarth - DS is not strong academically so I can't see a scholarship being an option. He scraped through GCSEs with grades just good enough to study A levels and I suspect he will scrape through these with just enough UCAS points for uni, but he won't have a huge choice as he will have to pick a uni and course on the basis of points. He works hard and always has done, he's just intellectually brilliant but always seems to scrape by, bless him! He is going to look in detail at the two universities closest to home and he will enquire about bursaries although his choice of uni and degree course ultimately will be limited by his UCAS points. A degree from a not-so-great uni is still better than no degree, do you think?

MrsHoarder Wed 10-Apr-13 12:02:32

I wouldn't agree, especially if he will just about scrape through that, unless he wants to go into a profession for which a specific degree is required. Not from a carter perspective anyway, and if he's commuting in possibly not from a social perspective.

Would he be better saving for a year or two then applying? And why doesn't he get a paid part time job, my boring part time job was very good for my CV post-graduation.

thriftymrs Wed 10-Apr-13 14:52:19

MrsHoarder - I figured staying in education for as long as possible to enable DS to gain the best qualifications he can would give him the best platform from which to start his career. I have been encouraging him to continue with his volunteering rather than looking for a part time job, so that he has practical experience to back up whatever qualifications he gets. The rest of his spare time is spent studying/revising. Despite not being gifted academically, he does work hard and puts the time in to his studying because he doesn't want to end up doing a job that doesn't interest him. He's not after earning big bucks, he wants to do a job he enjoys. I missed out on the opportunity of going to university and have found the lack of a degree has severely hampered my career progression - the first 15 years were fine, I earned a good salary but then reached what I guess was a glass ceiling and now find I can't go any further. I just don't want the same thing to happen to DS.

derektheladyhamster Wed 10-Apr-13 15:01:19

What about taking a gap year and finding a job? I think that's what my ds will have to do before university

BrienneOfTarth Wed 10-Apr-13 23:09:48

I'm not sure that a degree immediately after school is always the right path - your DS needs to think really carefully about what he actually wants to do. Many degree courses are not very useful for a career, and now that taking a degree means a serious long-term debt it shouldn't be the default option - only if it's really the right choice for him. Many 18/19 years olds are not really ready for the challenges of a degree - a degree is not just "like a-levels but more difficult" it is a whole new way of working. Unless he has his heart set on a career that is only open to graduates, he should give serious consideration to taking one or two years to work a bit, earn some money, grow up a bit and decide what he really wants - he can then go to Uni as a more mature person. I see a lot of students and the ones who took a year out to earn cash and get experience have a much better work ethic and take their studies a lot more seriously than the ones who came to Uni straight from school.

eatyourveg Thu 11-Apr-13 12:27:38

I know of one uni that gives you an automatic £400 (was £800 last year) as a residential bursary regardless of parental income as long as you have them as your firm choice and the cheapest bed in halls there is £8.25 a night

boomting Thu 11-Apr-13 16:19:36

Please be aware that living at home is often NOT substantially cheaper, when you take into account
- train fares
- time spent travelling, which would be more productively spent in a part time job (an hour each way = 10 hours per week = £61.90 at min wage)
- bursaries - every university gives them out, and they are dependent on household income not A Level grades, and they are automatic and guaranteed - but some of them can only be spent on uni accommodation. Some unis give out £3000 per year - not to be sniffed at!
- lower maintenance loan (£1125pa lower from memory) if you live at home

And then there are the social aspects to consider, including the ability to get involved with societies, learning to be independent and meeting lots of different people. Plus, he will have more choice over what uni he goes to if he moves away, and two courses with the same name at two different universities will have very different content, so it is important to compare each course.

Of course, he should choose the cheapest accommodation available - self catered, shared bathroom.

But I think you may be overthinking this - with an income of £29,000 your son will still be eligible for a level of student finance that will afford him at least a basic standard of living, even if he does have to work in the holidays (and possibly part time during term) to pay for the luxuries.

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