Cost of Uni accommodation

(48 Posts)
Woffa Fri 22-May-15 07:23:34

Ds1 will be applying for Uni in September and we've realised that the "anyone can afford to go to Uni" is quite misleading.
We know that we will have to top up his loan as he won't get enough to live on (our income is too high to get any extra help but too low for it not to be an issue, especially with a Yr11 also wanting to go a year later).
Is there a trustworthy website or report which shows the cheapest places to go, especially for accommodation? I'm a bit sceptical that the prospectuses give a true picture given their marketing spin these days ;)

titchy Fri 22-May-15 07:37:44

Unistats might be helpful. Accommodation costs are provided by the institutions themselves but no reason to think they're not accurate.
Student unions often do their own prospectuses with what life is actually like there.

titchy Fri 22-May-15 07:39:24

Can I really advise against picking where to go based on cost alone though - the price of going to the wrong place is much much higher than pricey accommodation will be. Bursaries will be available wherever you go.

tryingtocatchthewind Fri 22-May-15 07:41:04

This is the biggest problem with uni funding. 10 years ago my loan only left £400 to live on for the year I can I bet it's still the same.

Op start by looking at places you know are cheaper to live, the North, Wales etc. Halls are one thing but it's likely that your son will be in private houses in yr 2 and 3 so have a look at those as well.

The uni accommodation pages will have up to date pricing for halls

SecretSquirrels Fri 22-May-15 09:45:29

OP as titchy said it's really not a good way to choose your university. I have one in his first year at uni and one hoping to go next year.
Within a university the cost can vary tremendously. Just have a look at this for example. The cheapest is £2400 and the dearest over £6000.
Also students don't always get their first choice of accommodation.
There have been lots of threads on Higher Education in recent years about unis and accommodation and cost of living. Here are a .couple London seems to be more expensive in terms of rent and travel. Others vary.
Also your DC lifestyle and budgeting makes a difference.
In his first year DS's living costs have been about £7000 including everything.

Millymollymama Fri 22-May-15 11:04:11

Bursaries usually do not apply if your income does not trigger the maintenance grant. They are usually for very poor people or people who manipulate their income because they can. Think more like £20,000 a year.

It is expected that people, by now, will have saved a bit or can afford it out of earned income. Or that the student can get work in the holidays. It was ever thus. My DH had parents who did not contribute what they should have done when they were assessed 40 years ago! They earned 2 X modest wages, but were still expected to pay a contribution. Luckily DH had an Aunt who stepped in and helped out. This is, therefore, not a new problem for parents just above the income limit. It means you just have to pay for the few years your children are at university.

There is no real need to choose a London university, unless you are desperate for one of the top flight universities there. Costs in London can be £8,000 just for self catering accommodation. I have a friend with a DS at Leeds and that is much cheaper. So are Newcastle, Manchester and Nottingham I understand. Generally, if housing to buy is not too expensive, then student living is not too expensive either. Places like Bristol and St Andrews are pricey in the private rented sector but most universities outside London do have some more reasonably priced accommodation of their own for the first year. You are not guaranteed the cheapest accommodation at any university and, in some places, you might not want it!

Do, though, choose the best course and location of university. Choosing on accommodtion costs could lead to all sorts of problems if the university experience and location are wrong for your DS.

boys3 Fri 22-May-15 13:50:35

cheapest places to go - probably Oxford or Cambridge.

Chopchopbusybusy Fri 22-May-15 14:08:11

Bursaries titchy? Not in our experience unless parental income is very low. Some universities do offer maybe £1000 or so to applicants who have selected the institution as first choice and achieve 3 A or A* for some courses. For the first year only!
When looking at halls prices it's best to assume you might be allocated the most expensive. Students rarely seem to get first choice.
I don't agree it's always been the same. We fund DD1 to the tune of £4000 per year. She borrows the maximum she can. It would be more but she lives in a cheap city. We'll soon be funding two of them. You have to earn quite a lot to not miss £10000 after tax income. She does work part time too even although her course is very full on with a lot of lab work.

mrsrhodgilbert Fri 22-May-15 16:25:58

Sadly many parents do not realise the costs of university until they are called to a school meeting when their dc are in year 12. It can come as a nasty shock and many have not been saving for years. Not all parents are haunting this thread, it's a whole new world to get your head around.

It's also not true to say that more northern universities are always affordable. You can't guarantee where your dc will end up and we recently saw halls in Leeds at nearly £8000, albeit catered. But I wouldn't choose a university based on accommodation costs even so.

We will pay whatever is needed on top of the basic loan dd will get to pay for accommodation and catering plus a weekly allowance. She has worked over the last year and will work through the summer and should have about £5000 saved by September. She will be able to top that up during the holidays. Anything she wants above our contribution will come from these savings. I suspect at that point she'll consider her spending very carefully.

Artandco Fri 22-May-15 16:34:21

One thing I know some Parents I know have done if affordable is to buy a house in the area of university if it's not too expensive.

Ie one bought a 4 bed house in Manchester. Own son lived there 4 years rent free. And the rent from the other 3 rooms covered the mortgage plus spare. Now he is finished they own the house outright and they still rent out all 4 rooms so making tidy profit each month now

I would honestly say private rent. My uni halls rent was £500-600 a month. (Cardiff university) But if I'd looked into renting with other university students say in a 4 bed house it'd be £200-300. Look on gumtree etc for uni students needing a new housemate, halls are very misleading and often dirty and cramped. Worst thing I ever done was moving into halls. (Only 2 years ago.)

namechange0dq8 Fri 22-May-15 16:46:44

Sadly many parents do not realise the costs of university until they are called to a school meeting when their dc are in year 12

They must have been living under a rock, though. There have never been universal, non-meanstested grants at a liveable level in this country. Up until the early 1960s county scholarships were awarded at the whim of the local council, from the early 1960s until the early 1990s grants were meanstested against parental income at a relatively low level and since then there have been various loan systems which do not constitute a complete living sum of money for anyone whose parents are not living on means-tested benefits themselves.

A family with a median household income has been expected to contribute to the living costs of their university-bound child since the early 1960s, so for practical purposes there is no-one with an 18 year old child who has ever lived under any other system. For a family with two parents working at median wage, it is substantially cheaper to send a child to university now (as there are loans available) than it was when they were of a similar age (the minimum grant was zero from 1985 onwards, and you would have to be on benefits to be in receipt of a maximum grant).

MurielWoods Fri 22-May-15 17:07:44

The information on individual uni websites is accurate so start doing your research now.

We have twin DD's at Uni.

DD1 is in London and her accommodation costs are £180 per week.

She has just arranged a private flat for year 2 and it's about the same.

She gets the basic maintenance loan as we have higher family income and we top this up with an extra £80 per week. It costs her £80 a month for an Oyster card.

DD2 is in Belfast where everything much cheaper.

Halls accommodation in year 1 was £120 per week. There were cheaper options but we opted for upgraded ensuite

She has a private flat arranged for year 2 which works out around £80 per week.

We top up her basic loan with £25 per week.

Yes it's expensive although we are making a lot of savings with them being away from home (no more pocket money, bus fairs to college, college lunch money etc) our shopping bill is also reduced as well as utilities. So it's not all horrendous.

You can get some really nice accommodation for around £80 or even less.

I know it seems daunting but it will work out (probably wink)

ISingSoprano Fri 22-May-15 18:48:07

Most universities have a range of accommodation. At Southampton for example, the cheapest halls accommodation is £89.32 next year, at Reading the cheapest is £99.89, Plymouth £91 per week. The information is easily available on their websites.

Kez100 Fri 22-May-15 19:17:32

The only thing to consider is that private rent is cheaper per week but often you have to pay all year around but halls are less number of weeks. My daughters halls were £124 for 42 weeks. Next year's private is £375 a month but for 12 months. So cheaper, but not as cheap as you'd think.

She is still looking forward to having a large roo, garden, washing and drying facilities in the house and a lounge.

Oodear Fri 22-May-15 20:35:02

I think it's a surprise how low the SLC calculate a low income. It certainly is to me as a mature student.

spinoa Fri 22-May-15 21:01:02

For a family with two parents working at median wage, it is substantially cheaper to send a child to university now (as there are loans available) than it was when they were of a similar age (the minimum grant was zero from 1985 onwards, and you would have to be on benefits to be in receipt of a maximum grant).

I don't agree with this. I went to university in the early 1990s. At that time somebody with a full grant and loan could easily cover living expenses. A family on median income would have been expected to contribute 1k per year at most.

It's rubbish to say that you had to be on benefits to get a maximum grant: I came from a single parent family and was at university at the same time as my sibling. We both received almost maximum grants despite the fact that our parent had a fairly well-paid professional job (accountant). My parent contributed nothing apart from housing and feeding us over vacations: we worked over the summer vacations but not otherwise.

Nowadays the income thresholds for getting full loans/grants are much lower in real terms and the costs of accommodation are much higher in real terms. A family on median income would expect to contribute at least 3-4k per year, probably much more. Somebody with my parent's job and income level, with two kids at university simultaneously, would be paying out 6-8k or more per year.

Woffa Sat 23-May-15 08:04:35

Many thanks for the suggestions- I'll dig around and have a look on the individual websites. DS is looking at other criteria for his shortlist, quite understandably, but we need to make sure it is going to work financially as well. He likes the look of a London uni amongst others but I don't think it will be feasible, unless he earns a lot in the holidays!

hellsbells99 Sat 23-May-15 10:34:40

We have discounted London universities because of the costs. DD1 has firmed a Northern University and DD2 is currently looking.

senua Sat 23-May-15 10:44:02

I think that it is quite a good idea to take a gap year. Apply in the autumn as per usual but ask for deferred entry. In that year off they can earn a lot to carry them through their student days, learn the value of money and just generally grow up.

eatyourveg Sat 23-May-15 11:15:23

Looking at ds3's spreadsheet with his considerations for the autumn, under the self catering basic accommodation column (there are tons of columns wink) the unis he is considering are between £83-15pw depending on which part of the country they are in. Sheffield being the cheapest on his list and London being the most expensive

eatyourveg Sat 23-May-15 11:16:35

£151pw not £15 grin oh to be in London and only pay £15!

bigbluebus Sat 23-May-15 12:57:06

I see muriel mentioned Belfast. Don't rule it out just because it is across the water OP. For grades above a certain level(BBB) there is a bursary scheme which effectively gives back part of the £9K pa fees and the package includes cash lump sum, upgrade to en-suite, off-peak gym membership, 3 flights home per year + luggage allowance, storage, bedding and kitchen pack. It would appear that the accomodation and cost of living i very reasonable in comparison to other cities.

DS has looked and was very impressed.He loved the Uni, its facilities and the City. He bumped in to a couple of other students from our area at the open day. The grade offers are often lower than for other RG Unis - presumably to attract mainland students.

We are probably in a similar situation to you OP, income wise. DS will get the student loan, but no grant. Thankfully, we only have one DC going to Uni, so will manage somehow.

BackforGood Sat 23-May-15 13:16:23

www.push.co.uk is a useful website for filtering Universities by all sorts of criteria.
You have to register, but don't get spammed with loads of rubbish.
We found it really useful when ds was looking.

Whereas you don't want to choose the university based on the cost of accommodation alone, it's true, you do have to acknowledge tht for many of us, it does have to be taken into account.
If you are on a very low income bursaries my be available, fo not for many of us who are in families where we both work, and are in fairly senior positions, without getting on to higher tax band type salaries. You are stuffed in terms of any help.

You are fortunate if the loan covers the accommodation.

TheAwfulDaughter Sat 23-May-15 13:36:53

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