Student finance - how much is enough to live on?(72 Posts)
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.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thanks Boomting that was exactly what I was looking for!
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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(.
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.
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.
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.
I'm not sure about the idea of going for the more expensive halls on the basis that you will meet people from certain backgrounds which you wouldn't meet elsewhere. I was in my uni's rock bottom cheapest halls with an Old Etonian!
Furthermore, it's not like halls are the only place that you will meet people - I met some people who turned out to be from really rather wealthy backgrounds through both my course and society.
I agree boomting, I suppose if you are planning a city career then perhaps being in the expensive hall making expensive friends is the thing but I'm not sure that the same applies in other situations. Any road up as DH said, the whole who you are in halls with is a lottery.
From what I can see most halls dont have a huge range of accommodation for undergraduates to choose from. As with all property decisions IMO location is the key. This is up to DD to decide what she wants.
We've been doing the schlepp around for DD1's Uni choices for next year OP.
One thing I have been impressed by is several of them have an arrangement where you can have a joint catering card. You can top it up weekly but it has a limit & is not useable in bars just for food etc so if they are careful they should have enough for a main meal plus one snacky meal per day. The catering manager said they often discounted hot meals ie lasagne & salad but not stuff like crisps & coke although thats still available.
With a lot of the halls you can choose a variety of packages, accomodation only,accomodation with self catering in flatlets within halls, or fully catered halls (usuall half board)
I reckon although it is more expensive initially to have the third option at least at the begining of term she will have a roof over her had & food to last the term so she won't starve, particularly in the first term whilst learning to budget. That will mostly be covered by grants we hope & then we can help with food shopping or whatever is needed.
One good bit (of the many bits ) of advice we got was NOT to splash out on course books until she starts. Many of the text books are the same year on year & are freely available in the extensive libraries or sold cheaply by previous students.
Also make sure they have enough cash saved up to tide them over the first few weeks. The grants are organised on paper but not released until they actually enrol on first day of term so funds for living on are not always available up front. Get your forms in asap after making the Uni offer choice . SFE are crap at getting things processed & I know from personal experience it can be a painful business. Whatever evidence they ask for send extra, proof of income, evidence of marital status, WTC statements Council tax billd. The buggers ALWAYS seem to ask for more when you've sent them all you think you can!!
Anyway it's Christmas Day - stop worrying about that just now...time enough for that in the New Year!!!
Thank you Bossy, the tips really are much appreciated!
I think everyone's financial circumstances are different, even within a family with different children at university. My sons all took the maximum loan as I think it helps them to realise that money didnt grow on a tree and that they would have to repay what they spent. Having Said that it didn't cover everything. We paid phone contracts for all three throughout uni, travel home each time, did big (enormous) shops at the beginning of each term, also whenever we visited we took them to the Supermarket for another big food shop, bought bulk buys of toiletries etc. we decided that it was better that way than giving them Money as that would disappear on beer!!!!!!
One son went to uni in a costly city and we did have to pay £200 a month towards the rent for 2 out of the 3 years he was there. 2 sons out of 3 also got a part time job during term time, one decided to live on less and not go to work. So every situation is different, girls of course might want more cash for clothes, make up etc maybe.
My comment about expensive halls buyin you good contacts was tongue in cheek really, but it's true that of the Etonians she made friends with in year 1 one had a father who bought him a £600k lovely house for years 2 and 3 and she got to share that and those boys remain good friends. Also children like that tend to pick sensibleinteresting high paid careers. Mix with those who are not too well off and they may encourage you into very low careers, teaching etc.
Anyway at least in a sense it's easier now. My son had to pay £3jk a year fees. Now none of the fees has to be paid - it is only repayable if and only if you ever earn over the threshold. In some ways the new system is cheaper not more expensive particularly for all the potential housewives out there who will onlh work 2 years then marry and never really work in any meaningful way again and never up to the dizzy heights of the £20k or whatever it is level at which you have to pay back the student loan.
xenia would that be a very low career which helped your kids get to and through Uni?
I have read many of your posts, Xenia, you seem to use money as the only measure of success.
DD looks to be heading towards a science career. This is not one where I can buy her success by buying her some nice friends. DD is going to have to earn the success herself.
We need people in all kinds of jobs in the UK BUT most of us for our children want them not to be on mumsnet credit crunch threads in 20 years time asking how they can save £20 at Lidl. Let someone else's children pursue careers which may keep them relatively badly off. I don't think there's much wrong with a parent saying that surely? If you want your child on ery low pay you should be encouraging them to leave school without taking any GCSEs.
Anyway what helps children pick fulfilling and well paid careers is a mixture of things and certainly often includes a good degree at the right place but also guidance from friends and family and the all important peer group with which they study.
Some of the brightest people whose businesses I advise are scientists. It can be a great career -particularyl if you own the business rather than be a hired hand on a pittance.
"Very low careers, teaching etc"
I can't work out if you're trolling, or if you're actually that deluded. Teaching has great career prospects, and many people find it a fulfilling career. I would much rather than my child was a happy teacher on £30k (bearing in mind that Heads can earn up to £112k) than an unhappy business owner on £300k.
And as for clipping coupons and shopping at Lidl, I have some well off relatives who take great delight in shopping at Lidl and buying reduced food (one was famous for it, along with eating out of date food). In many cases, people who are well off are (in part) well off because they are frugal in certain areas.
Xenia, sorry but I am going to have to pick you up on your comments about science careers being good if you own your own business. Really exciting science is being done in places like CERN which are huge international organisations. There are Physicists who would give a kidney and live in a cardboard box to have the chance to work there.
Having a science degree then running a business is not a science career. That is a management career. If that is what DD wants to do then I will be happy to advise her (I'm an accountant). If DD wants to have a science career then the advice will come from people like my brothers who are scientists and know what they are talking about.
Not everyone wants to have their own business. If DD wants to do research then she is going to be working for someone else. If she stays in the UK then it is unlikely to be stunningly well paid but it will be fulfilling.
Dyson. Lots of others. I work with inventors of all kinds in large and small businesses. However I agree that most scientists are not business owners and most don't earn much and most couldn't care less and love their work. I always liked the quote from Rausing who invented the Tetrapak milk carton (and moved to the UK from Sweden for our then low tax rates... those were the days...) who was proudest he said most of the 100 patents or some such number he had and not the many millions he made.
Being picky, Dyson and Wallenberg (Rausing founded the company not developed the product) are/were both designers not scientists.
Having looked further at finances an Erasmus year as well as being excellent experience would also make financial sense (currently no fees and a modest grant).
A while since my degree, 10 yrs but i did study Chemistry at Cardiff, i was one of only 4 girls on the course by graduation!!
I would have found it impossible to work a proper part time job while at uni, with Lab hours and lectures, Mon, Tues, Thurs and Fri i was in uni from 9-4 either in lectures or Labs (weds morning as well)
But that said i did work though the summer earning £1500 each summer and frugally saving it for the next year.
I look back on the lessons i learnt at uni about finance and they were valuable!
I lived on £7000 a year (not just term time, as i didn't come home in the summer)
Made up of £3000 loan, £3000 parents, £1500 own savings
This worked as the only debt i had when i left was my student loan.
Hope this helps at all
Also have worked with biotech and pharma people who are scientists and started businesses but it's certainly true that most scientists don't end up owning a company and many don't want to.
Thanks Notready, I do agree that part of the learning is about living on a tight budget (possibly more important for those embarking on a science career!).
I dont want DD to become one of the party girls to the detriment of studies, finances and health!
Scary how male dominated Chemistry seems to be!
Xenia, has interesting views and isn't afraid to post them on mn.
I certainly think whatever your income level it is helpful to ensure students have experience of money being short (which of course is relative in different families) and that is part of being a student.
I remember being terribly surprised about the Halls point. She had to make a special application for the one she wanted and set out what she could add to the Hall - I remember reading her comments - she talked about choirs (I think they had a choir at the hall) and things like that - it was like a mini application. I certainly had no idea before she applied that that was something that mattered and with her younger siblings we just picked the ones which seemed most expensive with the best food and most provided but that was because funding their univesrity year was no more expensive than their school fees so not an issue and they are used to quite a comfortable home anyway and did not want university to be too much of a shock.
My DD is quite independent so cant imagine her being thrilled to find that mummy has chosen her hall for her. She wants to be self-catered as she is a competent cook and finds cooking relaxing.
DD had to pay her hall fees a week or so before her loan would have arrived
if SFE hadn't pratted around - fortunately that year we were in a position to pay her first term's fees (which she repaid when her loan finally turned up), but had it been the previous year, she, and we, would have been stuck.
So get the loan application in as soon as possible, don't assume that if you've applied online that they've actually accepted the form (DD hit send, we assumed all was OK until her friends started getting confirmations, but not her, then we discovered that somehow their IT had gone bonkers, and had frozen the application somewhere between us submitting it, and them accepting it, which stopped us from accessing it to edit, so we had to start again doing it all on paper). But because it hadn't actually reached them, they didn't tell us what paperwork they needed, as we hadn't officially applied. [sigh] Ring them a few days later and check you're in the system. And check the dates that hall fees need to be paid.
Also don't be self-employed. They can't handle current year assessment, and freaked this year when we tried to sort out confirmation of last year's income, to re-use for this year's application. Win win in the end though, as she got her last year's application reassessed as it turned out we'd over-estimated profits, and she got a nice non-repayable bonus for last year, at the beginning of this past term . She has more money than I do .
oh bollocks ....I'm self employed
NOP I had no involvement in her picking a hall at all. She just showed me the application form to check it (she has slight dyslexia) and we had a chat about what they seemed to be looking for in those who applied. The other two also picked their own halls. I am one of the least involved parents in the UK I sometimes think. Never went to a university open day. Never even views a piece of GCSE coursework. Daughters no interest in my advice or views except on a minimal level.
I don't want to over egg the point. That was only 1 of the 3 children where the Hall did seem to work out rather well. It seemed almost like the hardest and most expensive ones to ge tinto are the best just like univerisites and jobs I usppose, just like life. However where you happen to sleep is not a major thing which affects you at university compared with how you spend your time and if you pass the exams well etc etc.
My DSs just chose their own, so cost was a big issue to them. They met perfectly nice people- I can't see why it is an advantage to meet those who don't have to worry about bills and lifestyle because the 'bank of mum and dad' will take care of it. Once they had chosen, they had questionnaires to fill in about whether they could work with background noise or whether they liked silence, whether they were 'night owls' or not etc and that seemed to work, in that it placed them with similar types.
In terms of level of accommodation at the universities DD is interested in there doesnt seem to be a huge amount of variation just ensuite, shared bathroom and shared room.
It is very hard IMO to draw up a student budget until you know which university she will be studying at - major costs such as accommodation and transport can vary wildly from city to city and self-catering can be a lot cheaper OR a lot more expensive than catered accommodation, depending on how she eats.
When I was at university (many years ago...) I always lived super-close to the university itself so had no transport costs and could go home for lunch every day. I liked that because I am a foodie-introvert but if you are someone who finds it hard to work if not in the library and doesn't care what you eat, you might make other decisions.
Ds1 has just finished his first term at university, and after his rent was paid, we budgeted £80 per week for food, clothes, books, entertainment and incidental expenses. His food budget was about £40 per week, and he managed to stay within that, and still eat well (he buys a chicken, some steak and a pack of bacon from Asda's 3-for-£10 offers on meat, and that provides the basis of his meals for the week, pretty much). He's also found that, unless he can get a lift to asda, it is cheaper to order his food on the internet and pay for delivery than to go on the bus.
I have just asked him, and he says that, for a daughter, you might want to budget around £90 to £100 a week, because, and I quote, they will buy more clothes and they tend to buy more expensive drinks.
Actually I agree with that one - girls tend to miss their home comforts more than boys and need more money to buy things that boys don't deem essential (laundry detergent).
I'm not wanting to fine tune a budget but really start to get to grips with how to manage this. I was wondering whether it was the norm to simply pay money and leave them to get on with it or mix and match a bit more with providing some things and leaving them to sort themselves for others.
We made sure that ds1 had the basics when he left - bedding, some kitchen equipment (pans, pizza sheet, grater, kitchen knife, chopping board, wooden spoons), crockery and cutlery, some stuff like plasters etc, towels and some basic stationary, and it was up to him to add other things he found he needed.
I also made up a care package of store cupboard staples - oil, pasta, cereal, baked beans, tea, coffee, jam, bread, rice, milk and some things like tinned chilli, so he could cook himself something without having to go shopping.
Hope that helps.
OP, my DD is in her second year and there is no way that a chemist could find enough hours to hold down a job. She found that the 'main three' text books were essential purchases and will need them throughout,so no chance of second hand ones.
I find SDTG's allowance almost double what we give. We do a weekly DD. Nothing is fine tuned,we buy books and all kitchen/bedding etc needs. Quite flexible really but I know that she budgets well and isn't profligate.
Thank you harbinger, you have confirmed what I suspected. I was not really expecting DD to easily get a job term-time as I had heard that Chemistry is fairly intensive in terms of hours required.
I guess that what we will do is get DD started then see what she needs after a couple of weeks.
I have two DDs, both in their second year.(One had a gap)
They both get the same amount by DD each week. They are in hugely differing places-cost of living wise.
It's also the first year that both of them have lived 'out'. Let's see what the bills are like ha ha.
DD1 was self catering in her first year. This is probably the best choice unless your DD is likely to poison herself or eats like a horse (sporty).
DD2 was catered and had little choice about this, college based, great for social life (esp for chem).
See how it goes.
Nottingham looks good,was one of DD2's no idea on the rest.
Gosh, the sexism... why would a daughter need more money than a son? If anything surely it's the other way round - boys tend to buy things for girls still. I would never have considered giving my children different money based on gender.
It was my son's opinion, based on his observation of his female student friends during his first term - not an exhaustive study, but not meant as sexist either, Xenia.
I think it may reflect the sexist way in which some parents bring up girls who want to fashion plates concerned only about external appearance rather than talking about all the issues of the world as students used to do.
I think it reflects the fact that girls at 18 are more developed than boys and do not want to wallow in a cesspit of filth at university .
Having both teen daughters and a teen son what I see is that my DS tends towards the functional in terms of food and clothes. If his belly is full and he can find clothes to wear then his needs are mat. Thankfully he wants to join the Army rather than go to university so all will be well!
I can only speak for my son, Bonsoir, and I am pretty sure that he didn't wallow in a cesspit of filth at university - his halls has a laundrette, which he found and used, and he has his own, en suite bathroom. [how things have changed since my day emoticon] He did bring home a suitcase full of laundry, but you will be glad to hear that he washed it himself, sorted it out, ironed that which needed ironing, and put it away. He knows me so well!
If your DD can get into Imperial, then that will probably be most cost-effective. The student loan for London is much higher than the provinces and there is a much wider range of accommodation. Supermarket food costs the same as anywhere and there needn't be a lot of transportation costs as everything is on the doorstep.
DS1 is in London and he has much better cash flow than DS2 in Bristol.
My boys both get minimum loans (£5000 London and something like £3500 Bristol). We give DS1 £50 pw, and DS2 no pocket money but pay his accommodation.
Mine has managed on £7125 max loan, grant, plus £1,000 bursary. She says she is better off than most relying on parental contributions.
Good point about Imperial Amerryscot. DB was there so I'm sure would be very glad to have DN go there!
Interesting point Scrazy, I remember back when I was a student on full grant (those were the days!), I was better off than students who's parents couldnt afford or didnt want (sadly it happened) to pay the parental contribution.
Yes, You can borrow more if you study in London. Borrow=loan =debt.
How much debt do you envisage?
You may find Oxbridge cheaper because of their short terms. You may find other places that offer very good bursaries for specific subjects.
Look into the places that reward excellence. (with subs).
harbinger, TBH I am not sure if DD really wants to go to Imperial even if she could get the grades (there are no guarantees). One of the downsides is that after the first year accommodation can be a problem - DB was there but has said that after the first year he stayed in some dodgy places which he wouldnt let parents visit.
My DF's advice 30 years ago still applies - have a thought to where your money will go furthest.
I didn't mention Imperial. I never advised either of mine to go to London.
Think about your DF's advice....but if your DD can get the grades don't drop out of the Russell Group.
Sorry harbinger, too many thoughts running through my head. But no, Imperial is only there on the possible list because of DB's connection.
We are midlands so I agree about not pushing DD in the direction of London if there is an alternative.
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