Supporting 2 at Uni, what's fair?

(25 Posts)
WaxOnFeckOff Tue 05-Mar-19 23:32:06

I have 2 DSs a year apart in age. DS1 started Uni last year, he's chosen to go to one within travelling distance and stay at home.

We are Scottish and he's studying in Scotland so his fees are paid and he's entitled to about £4.5k in student loans. We'd saved a bit from an endowment to go towards supporting the DSs through uni if they chose to go, and whilst we are not rich, we are able to continue to help them.

So, we are paying DS1s train pass and he has no bills as he eats at home, takes a packed lunch and we still pay his phone and actually, I've not stopped his pocket money (£50 a month) he's taken the loan but not spent any. he doesn't work but doesn't go out either so he basically spends next to nothing. We also fund a car that both DSs share that he uses to get to and from the train station although to be fair DS2 has used it far more since he passed his test a couple of months ago.

DS2 has an offer for Uni that would mean he would have to live out. Fees are also covered. What would be fair? Obvs his costs are going to be higher as accommodation will be a lot more than the train pass. He'll need food on top which DS1 gets for nothing. However, he will get the advantage of living away (which DS1 could have done but chose not to). He will also get less use of the car as that will stay here.

I feel that funding all his accommodation plus food etc is overly generous but at the same time that's what we are doing for DS1. If it helps, DS1s course is likely to be 5 years but should include some time working and DS2s will be 4 years. DS1s is also more likely to lead straight to a decent paying job but he is very very quiet and socially anxious to the point of selective mutism so getting a job might be harder.

I know they (and we) are very lucky and we should maybe have set it up so that DS1 was supporting himself more (he really needs to get a job for his own confidence but just finds the thought overwhelming and we are trying to gently push him and help him). He doesn't ask for anything and would pay if we asked him to.

DS2s loan would just about cover his accommodation so would still need extra and that would still leave him with nothing at the end. If Ds1 keeps taking the loan but not spending it then he'll have a cash sum at the end of Uni that he could either use to pay back the loan or use to set himself up. That doesn't really seem fair. the amount we have saved won't cover everything.

Sorry this is so long but wanted to give a full picture - congrats if you've read all this and thanks for any views.

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ClerkMaxwell Wed 06-Mar-19 11:06:09

I am going to be in a similar situation albeit in years time as DD wants to go away to uni We've decided to pay for her accommodation and food and give her the 4.5k per year for everything else. We give my DSs who stay at home 4.5k too plus they have food and accommodation at home. DH and I think that would be fairest. However DS2 thinks he and his brother should get more since they've saved us a fortune staying at home. DS1 and DD think it's a fair deal.

If you can afford it then I'd pay accommodation and food for your DS2 and get him to live off the 4.5k. I'd leave the arrangement for your DS1 as is. If they work then they'd have more to spend or could take less of a loan.

I think it can be more difficult to find part time term time work if you go away to uni depending on the city. Too many looking for same type of jobs plus preference given to those that are around over Christmas and summer. I know this is the case in Glasgow where almost all of DSs friends who are home students work part time but his living away friends don't.

Rade Wed 06-Mar-19 16:26:34

Treating them fairly doesn't mean treating them the same.
I'm surprised your DS1took the loan of £4500 and I think you are being generous in paying his fares and phone and pocket money on top.

I have had two go through uni in different places. One was more expensive than the other but they both lived away. We made up their loan so that they had roughly £250 a month to live on during term time after rent. That £250 had to cover food, travel, phone, clothes and entertainment.

Therareotherbooks Wed 06-Mar-19 16:47:24

One thing to think about is did DS1 genuinely want to stay at home or did he do it because he thought it was better financially for you?

I ask because when I went to uni I made sensible choices based on what I could afford and so that I wouldn’t have to rely on my parents for help. My younger sister then chose luxury student accommodation that her loan didn’t cover so my parents had to make up the short fall and help with food. I know they would have done the same for me, but I didn’t like to ask.

WaxOnFeckOff Wed 06-Mar-19 17:32:01

Thanks all that's very useful.

Thereare he genuinely wanted to stay at home but that is a very good point. i didn't go to uni at all for similar reasons. My parents not only couldn't afford it, they also needed my contribution from earning. None of us went to uni though so it was fair. We've even offered for DS1 to live out instead of travelling if he wants to as I personally think it might do him good. the worry was that he would just sit isolated in his room so it would be even worse than being at home. He's only attended 10 weeks up to Christmas and 11 weeks this year and that's him done as he has no exams to do because of his class test results.

Rade he took the loan as he wasn't really sure whether or not he would need it so thought it better to have it and then pay it back if he didn't use it, or he could instead use it as a deposit on a flat or something at the end.

I agree that fairness doesn't necessarily mean equal, however it's hard when they are so close in age and are both going to Uni - any unfairness or inequality shows up very obviously. They get on really well and neither one would complain to us at all but if they happened to find out they were being treated less favourably, they would be really hurt.

clerk That's seems a good idea. I've also looked at catered halls but will chat to DS2 about it. he is currently being assessed for Dyspraxia but initial tests with occ health show that he has significant motor skill issues and he's already cut half his fingers this week just making a sandwich!

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BubblesBuddy Wed 06-Mar-19 21:18:53

Is it an advantage living away from you? If DS1 is saving £4500 a year without working and you pay for everything he’s hardly disadvantaged is he? He does sound very limited in his horizons and needs though!

If DS2 needs to study away from home you’ll have to pay for that too. After all he’s doing the usual student thing even in this day and age. I’ve never heard of anyone saving their loan although it’s cheap money and he may never pay it back.

However I think DS1 should pay you the loan because that’s what it’s meant for. By putting him in such an advantaged situation that he saves the loan seems very unfair to me. You will really need to find equivalent for DS 2. I would take the university costs out of the equation and make sure both spend the loan. Fund on top as necessary. If one chooses to be a hermit that’s up to him.

AtiaoftheJulii Wed 06-Mar-19 22:00:53

With ours (eldest two a school year apart, next two not far behind) we have said we will pay for their accommodation, and they deal with their other living expenses. So that's what I would do for your two.

I can't imagine asking for money for food from ds1 tbh, but I wouldn't pay for fares or phones and I certainly wouldn't be giving pocket money whilst he was putting money in his savings!


WaxOnFeckOff Wed 06-Mar-19 22:46:47

Bubbles, I do take your point but being socially anxious and selectively mute isn't really a lifestyle choice. I'd love him to move away and he'd love to feel able to. As neither DH or I were able to go to university from school I also see the whole package of moving away as being part of the experience.

I love having them both at home but I'm glad DS2 wants to move away and I see that as an advantage as it'll broaden his horizons a lot and I think he'll really blossom.

I'm sort of hoping that DS1 will want to move at some point during his degree so it may not be 4 years accommodation versus none. I'm now thinking that we'll pay DS2s accommodation and food and travel back and forward to Uni and he can choose to use his loan money for beer/entertainment or get a job. That's fair as that we would expect DS1 to do (if he ever actually went out). If DS1 still has all his loan at the end of the time then that's money he hasn't spent on himself and DS2 could equally not spend it. DS1 will have the advantage of having the car during term time but that would be part of the travel that we pay for so sort of evens it out a little too. DS2 can share the car when he is home. Also happy to sort DS2 out a bike for Uni if he'd like one.

I'm guessing that accommodation should be cheaper outside of halls but I'd like him to do halls for at least the first year just for the extra support and security. We've had the advantage of half price travel for DS1 with his young scot card but will finish when he turns 19 so his train will cost about £220 a month and he may need it for more months next year than he's needed this year so the costs for both are probably closer than we think.

OP’s posts: |
WaxOnFeckOff Wed 06-Mar-19 22:53:28

Atia I see the travel as the equivalent of the accommodation I suppose. If he lived out he wouldn't have any travel costs. The pocket money and phone are paid for by Standing order and DD so I jsut never really thought about them. I think what I'll do is stop it on his birthday so he's had it for the first year and then I can do the same for DS2, so he'll get extra money for the first year of being away - if he's smart he'll save that and spread it out.

Neither of them are spenders really, most of their pocket money is generally saved anyway. They buy the odd thing, music/computer downloads and sometimes take themselves out for lunch or for a pint.

OP’s posts: |
ssd Wed 06-Mar-19 22:56:05

I have this dilemma too next year

MumUnderTheMoon Wed 06-Mar-19 23:02:53

Ds1 doesn't get food and rent for nothing. You pay the morgage/rent and buy the food he eats and pay for the car and his phone and his utilities. I think that if you are being fair then you have to do the same for both. Ds1 got a student loan but you haven't asked him to pay rent or utilities or even for his own mobile and your still giving him pocket money.

WaxOnFeckOff Wed 06-Mar-19 23:13:46

By nothing, I mean at no cost to him and at no extra cost than we were already paying while he was at school I suppose.

OP’s posts: |
ssd Thu 07-Mar-19 09:35:49

You do what feels right for your family wax

Xenia Thu 07-Mar-19 09:36:14

I am trying to treat all 5 the same so that has meant paying child 1's £1000 a year university fee and now for the youngest to the tewins' £9250 each student fees so this equality is certainly an expensive business. However that is just how it is. Similarly I paid daughter 2's 2 years of post grad law school and allowance whilst daughter 1 had it paid for by a law firm - vast difference but meant the net result for them was the same - law school didn't cost them anyway . I didn't of course then give the others the cash that that law school had cost. I feel that is fair and is along the lines of my parents paying for my sibling to read medicine (very long couse - only minimum grant) and my shorter degree course. It was not in my view or my parents' unfair one person had a longer course paid for.

So applying that to the case here I would say the one who has chosen to live away should have thes ame as the one at home - that their rent, food, travel etc is covered. (If you can afford that).

ssd Thu 07-Mar-19 09:36:40

I'm often told I give my ds s too much but they are the most grateful and least grabby kids I know

Rade Thu 07-Mar-19 17:27:59

ssd he most grateful and least grabby kids Do you know that's lovely and doesn't it make it all seem worthwhile when you get the appreciation. Mine are like that, and I am always a bit hmm on MN when young people are called greedy and entitled.

WaxOnFeckOff Thu 07-Mar-19 17:44:02

I'm the same ssd and Rade, I don't think mine have asked for anything in their lives, I have to push to find out what they'd like so I can shop for Christmas and birthdays.

I had to stop going on the teens board as 90% of what is on there is just so negative and doesn't really reflect my experience of DC and their friends.

OP’s posts: |
Rade Thu 07-Mar-19 17:48:12

Wax I agree it's sad. Perhaps we don't post enough about how lovely young people can be ( I don't say teens as mine are now 20+).
One small example, I don't think they have ever eaten a meal without saying thank you mum at the end.

ssd Thu 07-Mar-19 17:48:19

Same here, there's such negativity towards teens, mine are great boys, Ds1 is doing 3rd year abroad and I have to press money on him, he won't take it even though his host country is mega expensive.

WaxOnFeckOff Thu 07-Mar-19 17:54:14

Having said that, my colleague witnessed a bit of an altercation in our work car park yesterday when a young girl got into her car, lifted a pile of McDonalds debris and just chucked it out the door!! A passing woman pulled her up on it and got a mouthful of abuse saying what was it to her and what did she think she could do about it, that there were no bins (there are but would have taken her 20 seconds to walk to it and back) and that it's someone else's job to clean up anyway!!

Woman has now gone to security to get them to look at the cameras to find out which building the girl works in so she can report her to the manager. She's also parked in a bay she isn't allowed to and hasn't registered her car as required.

We do see quite a lot of entitled behaviour but as we know it's by no means universal. A case of the bad ones being more visible and spoiling it for everyone else.

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ssd Thu 07-Mar-19 17:58:29

Jeez what a madam!!!! Awful behaviour.

WaxOnFeckOff Thu 07-Mar-19 18:02:01

Indeed. She honestly couldn't give a shit. We end up having poor security staff out in all weathers trying to police (and clear up) the car park, but they would be the first to moan if it was their Dad, Mum, partner etc that was standing out in the driving snow at half 7 in the morning. It's almost always young guys and girls in Corsas/Fiat 500/Vauxhall Adams etc that aren't where they are supposed to be.

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ssd Thu 07-Mar-19 19:06:23

Honest if that was mine I'd boot there arse!! Sounds like she's a spoilt wee lassie who's never taken a tellin

ssd Thu 07-Mar-19 19:19:21

I think on mn posters sneer at kids who go to uni and stay at home, it's perfectly normal in Glasgow as we know.

defnotadomesticgoddess Thu 07-Mar-19 19:38:57

We are in that situation - DD1 away from home and DD2 commuting from home. They both have the student finance loans for fees and maintenance. Maintenance loan from student finance is the minimum available. DD1 gets slightly more maintenance loan just over £4k and DD2 gets a bit less (I think because she lives at home).

So we do this, for DD1 we pay for accommodation (which includes breakfast and dinner this year) and her annual bus pass. DD2 is at home - so we pay for her train and bus fares. We don't pay for anything else.

They both have to pay for their own lunches and anything else, uni trips, clothes, mobile phones etc etc out of their maintenance loan. Hoping they will learn how to budget. They do both have part time jobs too.

We've said if it's not working out then we'll review it, but it seems to be ok at the moment.

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