University - 1st Year - Planning - Living Expenses(63 Posts)
We are trying to put together a "budget" plan for our son's University education this September - fingers crossed for his results...
Excluding accommodation / books does anyone has a "feel" for the amount of the money that a student would need to survive on a weekly basis ???
I guess costs would include bus fares /food / entertainment / clothes / small extras etc etc etc..
Any insight on a weekly amount would be greatly appreciated ??
It's always more in first year, before they have learned how to manage their money, and before they have found all the cheapest places to buy food etc.
Some things have huge geographical variations eg local public transport -some places it's not necessary, others have good value bus passes, and others still have expensive systems requiring you to but a return every day (consider cycling!)
Food comes to around £25pw if you eat well but not extravagantly.
All in all I think I averaged around £80-90pw in first year, though I could have got it lower if it was necessary. This was in a large northern city last academic year.
Don't forget to budget for
-initial set up costs like bedding and kitchen equipment
-deposit for second year house of £300-400
-society costs (it was an expensive sport but I spent the best part of a grand in first year on sport though that did include kit, travelling to numerous fixtures and a week in France)
-cost if train fares home
-contingency -something will go wrong, and it's no good having no money to deal with the situation
PS sorry for bad typing I'm on my phone and learning to use Swype!
And on that note don't forget to budget for phone costs, and he will need a laptop too if he hasn't already got one.
What we have done with ours is to pay their accommodation (but not food) for them, then they have lived on the Student Finance maintenance loan.
We have done the same as Marjorie, this has given DS over £100 pw, and last year he came home with about £500 unspent.
This year (2nd) he has paid all his energy bills from his min loan and is still managing comfortably.
Other factors are, depending on the course he takes your DS may be able to supplement his loan by part time term time working. Plus depending on your income he may qualify for a uni bursary.
DS only gets the min loan & has a very full on week so we have discouraged him from term time working, but he does do some casual work through an agency over the hols.
DS has managed on approx. £80pw for each of his two years so far - first in halls, second in a shared house excluding rent/utilities.
In addition, we pay his phone and his fares home at the start & end of term.
Oh dear is that really how much they need? I was thinking about £50 per week with maintenance loan covering rent.
Do you think it is better for parents to pay rent and leave them to manage the day to day costs themselves from the loan?
A lot can also depend on whether or not they are in an expensive city.
But I think that coping on £50 pw for 40 weeks will be hard when you are first learning to budget, and there are travel costs, books, membership fees etc to pay. I think that just freshers week cost my DS ~£150 between tickets, drinks etc.
Obviously the rest of the year was much cheaper.
I'm also going to pay DS's accommodation of about £5k, and he'll have to live on the student loan of about £3.3k.
Before he goes I'm going to sit him down and explain about how to budget, as he'll get 3 chunks of money from the loan company and don't want him to blow it!
I'll be advising him to get the loan paid into a current account, transfer all that into a savings account and then set up a direct debit (if that's poss) from savings to current of about £70 pweek for food & entertainment (he'll be in walking distance from everything so no taxis), with the other £30 or whatever it is staying in savings until he has a big bill to pay.
We'll still feed and house him in the hols so the loan only has to cover about 35 weeks of the year, I think.
We did very similar, but heavily front loaded it for the first couple of weeks when DS paid £100 for annual sports club membership, £200 for freshers fortnight inc a few takeaway meals, £150 for books, and £100 for student rail card and train travel home, plus £100 for incidentals.
Then split what was left between the remaining weeks of term.
Luckily he had a couple of hundred saved from his part time job, and we were very firm in telling him that while we expected him to do his best, we were to be first people he called if he got in a muddle and we would help him out rather than take out overdrafts or credit cards.
The cost of living varies enormously between universities, but also the expectations students have on their lifestyle.
I have student's managing perfectly well on about £40 (excluding rent and bills) and others who struggle and think they are penniless when they have £100. Of course, the latter tend to confuse 'want' and need
We're planning on paying for accommodation, including food for DS but am suggesting he earns enough before he goes/while he's there for everything else. So long as he manages a few thousand saved before he goes, I think it should work.
melodyangel £50pw is absolutely fine for day-to-day expenses like food, toiletries and nights out. BUT there are lots of large expenses that are unevenly spread out across the year. For me, a return ticket to visit the family is £40 (I come home 3-4 times during the year, plus summer) annual bus pass is £200 (whilst I cycle, 90% of students here have a bus pass), sports club membership was £70, textbooks variable but up to £25 per book (I do a subject where it is often pointless buying old editions as some aspects go out of date very quickly), freshers week £150, bike service £120 (lots of new parts needed last time!), sports training camp £400, sports kit £90, house deposit + agents fee £430 . . . you start to get the idea.
It's not realistic to think that you could budget for all the above expenses from £50pw, hence the disparity between you thinking that £50pw would be adequate and others saying that the average is more like £80.
Ok but £50pw not unreasonable for everyday stuff?
He has been working since September so has some savings so will be able to fund freshers week and I have a feeling my DM will send him a little to help. If there isn't anything left over from the rent we will fund the books and we will set him up with first load of shopping. I can't see he will be wanting to join any sports stuff what so ever but music maybe although probably happy to just hang with mates and jam.
No travel expenses to get to uni really and fare home not more than £15 and he has railcard already.
So is it best to pay rent for them and make them live off student loan or give them some each week.
He is going to be in London BTW
Sorry for the thread hijack!
You didn't mention he was going to be in London :S
I wouldn't be certain that £50 pw will be enough in that instance. London is much more expensive, notoriously so, and the figures I gave were based on life in a northern city. For instance, I have heard of deposits for houses of over £1000 per person. A friend of a friend calculated that for every £30 he spent up north his friend at UCL was spending £ 80, though I have no knowledge of their relative budgeting skills / lifestyle. I think the best guide as to what is reasonable is to look at how much he would get if you were on a low income, including any uni bursary, details of which will be on the uni website. That's what many of his peers will be living off.
The examples that I have were just those that I have experienced. Your son will, of course have different ones, and music societies will still cost to join; instrument maintenance costs too. Don't prejudge what your soon might get involved with. I was THE least likely person to join a sports society - my parents and friends at home were all shocked, but I was really heavily involved for a good 18 months. And I was always the kid at school forging excuse notes for PE!. One if the brilliant things about uni is the ability to get involved with really random stuff you never would have done otherwise.
How you organise the giving of money is up to you, clearly, but I think it is a really useful skill to learn to budget a lump sum like a student loan
Will he be able to return to his current job in the holidays?
PS apologies for appalling typing -I'm on my phone.
As well as a budget for the year do one for freshers week.
I was in my 30s when I went to uni so didn't do much for freshers but I know some people spent a lot of money, much more than they intended.
A lot depends on the uni and the city. Most halls are walking distance to the main campus, some are not.
It's often cheaper to buy some form of travel card if you have to take a bus/tube.
I've been to a total of 5 unis (don't ask) at one you could pre pay a card to use in the uni.
I did this because anything you bought you got 5-10% discount but, and I think this is very sensible, you could only buy alcohol with it as part of a meal so for parents 'topping' up the card (you could do it from 2 accounts, 1 for the student 1 for the parent) you know your child can eat, buy text books, stationary, pay library fines but you can get drunk on it.
If your son's uni has a scheme then use it.
Melody, as I said upthread we have paid the accommodation (not food) and the DCs had to use their Student Finance maintenance loan to live on. That way, they had to budget for themselves, and we didn't get involved in conversations about how much they had spent on beer, or books, or clothes. It seemed to us that doing it that way put them in a more grown-up role, whereas if we were giving them an allowance they might have felt they should run their spending choices past us, and we might disagree with their choices
As it turned out they coped v well despite me being sure that one of them would be overdrawn by week 4! They stepped up to the responsibility. Two of them even managed to hold enough back for vacation travels.
I would caution against encouraging new students to spend more in freshers week. It is really not necessary, most unis have lots of free stuff going on.
It is also a good idea not to sign up to any clubs/societies in freshers. Most of the time, students never go back and is a complete waste of money. Looking around and joining a week or two later is usually a much better option.
Thank you for all the advice. It all seems to have come along rather quickly, 19 years just isn't long enough!
We can cover the cost of the rent, have saved so we can pay if student finance doesn't come through in time, but it would be easier for us if we can give each week/ month so as to spread the cost but yes I agree that it is a good idea to let them budget for themselves.
Off to look at family budget and see where to find some extra.
£50 per week may not be enough in London- unfortunately everything costs more in London, and you can't always walk everywhere. It is enough to survive on, but probably not fund a full social life.
Is it still the case that SF is higher if you are studying in London? If so, then he should have a bit left over from his rent which can help cover occasional costs. Is he going to be aiming to live in halls? If so, these are very understanding if SF comes in late, as obviously most people are not in the position to cover the cost. The rent of halls is normally charged termly, so you wouldn't have to cover the full amount.
First year is always the hardest, and people do struggle to budget on what would seem a reasonable amount of money. It would help if you could get him to write a list of all the things he thinks he might want to spend money on in a week, a month, and a term, including things like phone contracts etc.
However, if £50 a week is what you feel you can afford, then if he cannot manage on it, he will have to find a way to supplement his income, e.g. by getting a job, or cut down on his expenses.
Just a question- How many mums with sons/daughters at university would be interested in purchasing meals specifically aimed at university students to give to their children, instead of providing food money?
I think at 18/19 students really ought to be able to choose and cook for themselves, they are adults! So personally, I wouldn't want to buy meals for them, but rather let them make their own choices. Some will be bad, but hopefully most will be good choices - or at least good enough!
camillarj - I think anyone who would ever ponder that is probably in one of two situations
1. They don't trust junior to budget adequately and not piss all their money up a wall. In that instance, they can do an online shop for them and get it delivered to their uni address, or put money on one of those sainsbury's cards with baked beans on.
2. Junior can't cook, and so chooses to go into catered halls, and eventually has a choice of learn or starve (which is as it should be).
I'd never pay good money to let my children remain incompetent indefinitely.
Question - is any allowance made for two kids at uni at the same time with regards to the student loan? Doesn't seem fair or right if not.
DS1 is in his 3rd year at Uni in Gtr London. He got higher than standard maintenance loan and had enough left over for food/other expenses.
We helped out when he needed train fare or other bigger expenses.
DS2 is going to Uni in September (Sheffield Hallam) and he will have nothing left over after paying for accommodation. We intend to pay for a cheap mobile phone contract, student railcard and send something for food.
I'm not quite sure how much yet as I'd prefer he learnt to budget and then help him out if he gets stuck rather than having too much spare cash.
This thread is very useful
Numberlock - I asked that question previously and was told it didn't make any difference.
Thanks, Maat, that's what I suspected. Seems ridiculous that adults are mean tested for loans based on their parents' income. They could be mid-20s when they graduate, depending on the course!
I couldn't believe it either. The finance forms are only interested in what our income is - not the fact that we are supporting more than one DC through Uni.
DS1 still has a couple of years to go (he's doing a 5 year sandwich course and DS2 has 3 years ahead of him.
We are going to be seriously skint
We did the same as Marjorie with DD1 and 2 and are just abput to start again with DD3. We did buy some of thier books for the first year and also stuff like utensilsand other initial setting up stuff, We also boight the first lot of food. DD3 is still deciding which uni to put as her first choice either a HND at Bolton or a degree course at Greenwhich,,both in computing. We went up to an open day at Bolton this weekend and she was tols where all the cheapest shops were. Of course if she chooses Bolton it'll be chaper then Greenwhich.
I am a f/t (mature) student in London. There is a student Oyster travelcard, so look into this, it gives 30% off. It's likely that he'll have to travel quite a distance into university, depending on which one. Some of my coursemates travel in to our uni building in zone 1 from as far as Essex (about 1.5 hours travel). Bus fares/passes are cheaper, but imo it's worth paying extra for the tube if you're travelling that distance as it's much quicker.
Almost all the students I know also work, I know quite a few who don't get any financial support from parents at all so just fund themselves from loans/grants/wages. He might be able to earn fairly well with tutoring depending on his subject. Can he get a transfer from his existing job, if it's a national company? Check the university website for information on bursaries. He may be able to get some additional support from his university access funds as well if he can show the family income is low (but they tend to prioritise mature students/those with dc/from families on benefits)
He should be able to find a good market within travelling distance to buy cheap food/household goods, there are lots of free activities to do in London, and many places do student discounts. But there are also fantastic opportunities to do things that he'd miss out on if he economises too much, so I wouldn't cut back too far. There is no point being here if you are just going to do the same things you can do much more cheaply in a random Northern city! I spend a fair bit on doing some sports activities here and doing various social activities, they both drain my budget but I feel lucky to have the opportunity to do them as they're not always widely available elsewhere.
Also, depending on his course/career interest, there are some amazing opportunities to do voluntary work/internships with organisations here, but a lot of students can't do them as they already spend their free time doing paid work. So giving more money (if you can afford it) can help by freeing up his time to take advantage of these, which can be more helpful to his long term prospects than spending time doing shop/bar work.
Maat It might make a difference. My DCs both started at the same time.
One applied for Student Finance a lot before the other (last minute specialist!).
Early DC had the Maintenance Loan upped after Late DC's application went in.
I never queried it, life is too short!
You do need to link everyone.
I'd love to know for sure how they (SF) deal with this.
I would never do meals for student DCs - they are adults and either can cook or need to learn!
I rang the student loan people and for every additional child at uni you can deduct £1300 from your salary to make the calculation; they link the two applications automatically by address or whatever,
In total they need £8-9k a year to live a normal student life, in my limited experience. There are slight variations in living costs from city to city and travel costs to home and so forth. quite how they manage without parental help i really dont know.
I wouldn't consider buying meals for DCs at uni. Both DD1 and DD2 budgeted for meals out of thier student loan. They cooked themselves sometimes i conjuction with flat mates and at other times on thier own. Part of going to ui is to learn to do that sort of thing themselves, We did buy them the initial lot of food when they started uni but that was it, DD3 is going in September and we'll do the same for her although she does have some learning difficulties,
Numberlock you risked your sanity ringing SF.
So that is their calculation £1300 per child.
Unfortunately, it looks like I might have to ring them. DC's loans don't agree,when they should. One letter is even better, the front page doesn't agree with the next. I have two DCs and FIVE different ML sums.
Just hoping for another print run as this doesn't make sense.
I shall pray for you harbinger !
Poor you - the nightmare that is the annual student finance application.
DS has year abroad coming up so I can only image what SF will do with that!
fussy So does DD1. That's probably why it's all over the place!
BUT It should be quite straight forward........ GRRRRRRR
Don't think I've heard of Freshers Week. Don't think my Universities had anything like it.
Is Freshers Week just so expensive because they go out socialising, clubbing & drinking? Why is it unreasonable to expect them to budget reasonably for that? (I suppose stupid question from a foreigner who never liked getting drunk, but then I can't imagine expecting my parents to fund those types of habits, either old fart emoticon).
LLijkk - its expensive partly because of socialising, but also they tend to have to pay fees to join societies/clubs for the year.
Freshers Week is a big thing in UK universities - major socialising and meeting loads of other students, while also enrolling for all the activities you want to do. So it is usually a more expensive week than normal. Its also due to some of the upfront costs if they have to buy expensive text books - not all courses require these but some do. And it can also involve kitting out your room/kitchen so again its costs you have once but not again.
anyone got any cost ideas for accom and cost of living in Manchester. That is dd's first choice but v unsure on costs. She has got the basic maintenance loan approved, but do you think it easiest if we pay for accom and leave her to live on that? very many thanks
I graduated 2 years ago from a Northern university and my maintenance loan was around 3,3k per year. My parents paid my tuition fees & also gave me £400 per month.
My first year accommodation was 4,5k per year and included food - I had enough to live off, buy books, the occasional treat from Topshop, travel to see various friends, socialising, joining societies etc.
Was looking at some forms related to student funding today (uni specific). It asked about siblings and other outgoings. May not be standard though. Have seen figures around £8,500/yr banded about in relation to costs of living as a student in London - think this includes all expenses, rent etc (although will of course depend on the frugality or otherwise of the particular student!).
Re food: of course I wouldn't purchase ready made stuff for my DCs. Studentdom is about learning to budget/cook/survive on your own two feet (as much, or more so, than the academic stuff) IMO. Oh how I remember 5p cans of beans, 6p tins of spaghetti and 10p loaves of bread. <shudder> Wouldn't have it any other way for my DCs! My mum used to post me bars of posh chocolate a couple of times a term though
There's probably a market for it though. I regularly hear stories of people doing things for their student (/adult) DCs which make my jaw drop.
MABS, my daughter is in her second year at Bristol Uni and gets the basic maintenance loan. We pay her rent(and her iphone contract) and she lives off the loan. This is common practise apparently and she has managed well. She hasn't had to get a job during term time, but does have to be careful with her spending. She earned about £1000 last summer which was mostly spent on gym membership!! I imagine, if anything, Manchester will be more affordable than Bristol.
MABS - I'm at Manchester, and I get full student finance (£7177, from memory), plus a £1250 bursary. This allows me to live a fairly comfortable life, by student standards. I know quite a few people whose parents pay for accommodation (and, in second & third year, bills - they're included in halls) and then leave their offspring to live off the rest. They do manage, though money does seem to be perpetually tight.
Mabs- agree with boomting's comments above. If your family falls into the middle income bracket (earning too much to qualify for anything but the basic loans/not enough that the £s don't matter) then your child will be one of the poorest. As a family will can manage but not looking forward to next year when twin DDs head of to uni too!
This is all new to us. Just been on an open day so learning slowly. Although she can get a loan I was rather hoping to pay the accommodation out of this and provide say £50 per week spends for food etc. I'm a bit mortified about some folk paying the accommodation, we could not as a family have around £5k spare cash each year to do this, hell we have all on affording a family holiday at £2k or less!! So now I'm panicking as she will get into one hell of load of debt, is it worth it?
Accommodation needn't cost £5k. Mine was about £3.5k.
If you type your details into www.studentfinance.direct.gov.uk/portal/page?_pageid=153,4680136&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL it will give you an idea of how much you will get from the government. Unis give out bursaries too - some will support students with household incomes of £40k, but this does vary by uni.
The top band for student finance is for people with household incomes above about £65k, which is quite a lot by anyone's standards. At that point you still get the tuition fee loan, plus about £3.5k in maintenance loans. If you earn less than that, then the student will receive more SF.
Is it worth it? So long as they're not doing Underwater Basket Weaving at the University of Polynovia-Nowheresville, then invariably the answer is yes.
Although she can get a loan I was rather hoping to pay the accommodation out of this
That depends on whether she can get any extra funding, eg if you are on a low income. DS will only get £3,300 a year and the accommodation alone is £4,800, in a Northern city, so we have no choice but to pay for the accommodation (you can pay it in 3 instalments if necessary), and the loan will hopefully cover food, books, etc. Beer money will be funded by his PT job.
It isn't necessarily the right decision for everyone to go to university. Article here about the rates of unemployment and earning potential of graduates and school leavers. I would expect the gap to narrow if more bright young people stopped going to university. www.guardian.co.uk/money/2012/feb/22/graduates-unemployment-levels-school-leavers
I have tried suggesting to mine that they have a platonic marriage with another medical student (married students grants are based on their partner's income) but they don't seem to like the idea for some reason....
Manchester accommodation in halls varies from 86 - 131 pounds a week, their guide can be downloaded and prices are p26 www.accommodation.manchester.ac.uk/our-accommodation
We pay DS accommodation, about £3500 a year. When he was in halls that covered it, now he is sharing a house he has to put some to his bills out of his student loan of about £3500. He also works part time in a supermarket so he can afford to get extra's. He volunteered at a couple of festivals and got free tickets so that was like a free(ish) holiday.
We did not have the loan assessed as we earned too much for a grant, but he could have got a bit more as we certainly aren't on the top earnings level for the minimum amount of loan, but felt it would all add up to be a great deal to pay back, when he could earn some money in his part time job to supplement an unassessed loan.
He seems to manage OK and does a lot of home cooking and eats "No frills" food a lot.
Everyone seems to be very generous here! My DS gets the minimum maintenance loan which doesn't quite cover his accommodation costs, so we give him £200 per month except the summer months when he can either live at home rent free or get a job. So we pay him about £1600 per year. He manages to live frugally on that. This summer (after his 2nd year) he has got a job so will be quite well off next year. I think he will get a slightly larger loan next year as my DD will hopefully be at university too. So I will probably pay them less than £200 a month each. I think part of the university experience is not having much money to encourage them to get a summer job!
We will be paying for DD3's Halls, the same as we did for her sisters. She will have to pay for everything else from her loan. She has been asking us how much a weeks food would cost. So yesterday I sat down with her and we wrote a list. I then sent her out with £30. She spent £25.05 and had got everything on the list. She did take about 4 hours though and I thought she had got lost
Mummee we did similar, and then made DS and his brother live on what they had bought for a full week. DS says it was a valuable experience
DH and I are away for 3 weeks in August and I'm planning on leaving DS with £35 per week and a recipe book of cheapo meals so he can practice budgeting, shopping and cooking before he does it for real.
I only hope he doesn't blow it all on an Indian takeaway on the first night
Well we went through the stuff DD3 had bought and she did have just about enough to live on for a week. She probably need to adjust it a bit as she won't need 80 tea bags every week . She did manage to buy some fruit and fruit juice. We are going to get her to do it again in a couple of weeks and have told her to try and ve quicker next time. She said she was trying to find items and working out which was cheapest. I expect she was probably day dreaming as she does that lot. She did do quite well for a first attempt
Dds loan will only just cover her accomodation. If I had the money it would be cheaper to get a mortgage on a flat than pay that every week for just one lousy room!
Anyways, we will have to pay for her food etc and was hoping to get away with £50 a week, but looks like that's an underestimate. That's all we can afford though.
We will pay it weekly so she doesn't blow it all at the start of the month.
Student loans usually only just cover the cost of accommodation we found that with our other 2 DDs in fact DD2's didn't quite cover it. So we paid for their halls and will do the same for DD3. She'll have to pay for everything else herself.
mumeeee - Some great tips on food shopping on this blog agirlcalledjack.com/
We pay rent, most travel (airmiles or train), phone, most books. Student loan pays day-to-day food, hobbies, fun & quite a lot of travel around the country. DS works every summer and in the last academic year abroad. TBH I think he could do without the loan for the next year but I think he will still apply for it.
To the lady that asked about food - why would I order food for an adult living 600 miles away? Unless it was a treat box from Hotel Chocolat. DS seems to strike up a good relationship with the local butcher; always telling me about bargain steak!
OP I think it would be very difficult to live in London on £50 pw, but there is a lot of work here if you want it.
Join the discussion
Please login first.