/ Understanding University costs - Help a confused parent please

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chubbs2 - on 23 Oct 2013
Right I've got 2 kids who are likely to be off to University in the next 2-3 years. I've got the 9k per annum Tuition fee thing, (which may well have gone up by the time they go) and I understand that this is covered by a student loan repayable when they are working and earning a certain salary etc.

I'd like to feel I could make a contribution to their living costs, but I'm confused by the stuff on-line about hall costs and some Universities giving bursaries to help with costs and some funding available for low income households etc etc.

Can anybody give me a rough idea on additional costs outside tuition fees, to study for example Engineering at a half decent (but not top) University.Things like Hall fees and / or a room in a shared house and cost for books etc. Don't worry about beer and food....I'm sure they'll be too busy working to need any.

Confused of Chester
mattrm - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to chubbs2:

I went to uni a few years ago now, but I doubt things have changed that much. Bursaries and funding are available, but you have to be seriously poor. I knew a mate who's household income (only Dad worked) was about 25k, but that didn't qualify him for any funding. He simply didn't go to uni, despite being more intelligent than most going.

Just take a look at the uni they might want to go to and then you can budget from there. Quick peek on line gives hall accomodation fees from 3k to 5k. I'd probably say that another 1500 per term would about cover things. That includes, books, food, 'entertainment', clothes etc. Doubt you'll see much change out of 10k if anything. Plus the fees on top of that. It'll be 40k all in once you've done a standard 3 year course I reckon.

No idea about houses, but I doubt they'll be much cheaper, especially as many houses expect you pay full whack even when you're not there (i.e. over holidays).
hang_about - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to chubbs2:
Dear Chubbs2
Contact the department. It is very confusing but the admissions tutor should be able to point you towards a web site that covers all of the basics. It's a question that most parents ask (the students seem less bothered!)
remus - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to chubbs2: There's basically two parts to the student loan, one bit covers the tuition fees and the second part is a maintenance loan of 3-5K depending on your household income. In addition to this many universities offer bursaries to help cover various things, if you contact the university they'll be able to tell you which bursaries your kids would be eligible for.

I can only speak for the university I attended, halls start at around 3,000/year up to 10,000/year. A room in a shared house is more variable and depends quite a lot on location (e.g. in london you'll pay a lot more than a university in a smaller city.) Low end is 50/week inclusive up to 100+/week. To get a more accurate idea contact the university's accommodation centre, they should be able to give you a good picture of what's available in their particular area.

The actual cost of doing the course (books etc.) again depends on the particular department. I was lucky enough to do a degree where there were no required textbooks thus my course was very cheap. I had friends on a design degree who spent a grand on their major projects in final year. If possible your best bet here is to talk to current students about the cost of doing the course, departments tend to understate how much you need to spend whereas the students will be painfully aware!
chubbs2 - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to chubbs2: Thanks for the replies everyone. Sounds like it's a bit specific to each course and University, so wait and see and you've given me a rough idea what to expect for my contribution to living expenses etc.

Cheers

Chubbs
SteveoS - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to chubbs2:

I lived quite comfortably (Bought a full climbing rack, jackets, surfboards, wetsuit, SPA and ML over 3 years.) on a maintenance loan because I didn't spank all my cash away on beer. Of course I'm in debt now and well into natwest's student overdraft but I loved uni.

I found I only asked my parents for some money to help pay for food at a tenner a week. Mum and I had a Salisbury's gift card that she could load up each week so i had to spend it on food. Helped me cover the basics of milk, bread, frozen veg and fish fingers and anything else I budgeted for.

While I think about it though I did borrow 300 to do my MLT but paid it back the second I got my next loan in.
chubbs2 - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to SteveoS: Good man...I'll be highlighting your post to the kids!!
mattrm - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to chubbs2:

I'd second what Steve said. I didn't drink while at uni (was teetotal) had a perfectly good time and spent my money on stuff which was actually useful. Ok, it was mainly on computer games, anime and going off and doing stuff, but there we go. Didn't piss it up a wall like many did.
ckms - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to chubbs2: Also, remember that the costs are the same at any uni - apart from those in london due to the general cost of living.

Don't apply to 'lesser' unis thinking it will be cheaper - you have to go a long way down the scale to save any money!


I was lucky - I won a bursery based upon grades (A level results, something like 1000 a year for being in the top 10 entry students for the course), and then 3000 fees a year, plus a 3000 living loan a year. Rent inc bills etc I would budget 400 a month.

Then you need 50 a month to go climbing.... (dependant on how far from the rock you are)
wintertree - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to chubbs2:

The accommodation costs perhaps vary more with the location of the university than the quality of the university.

You'd normally be expected to live in halls in year 1, and to live out in private rented accommodation thereafter. Once you get to living out, it may be that a willingness to live 4 miles away and get the bus halves the cost of rent whilst increasing the quality/size of your house, but it it very area dependant.

If the halls are catered then the student doesn't need much money at all for the first year - textbooks (course dependant) and a few basic materials. You want to have a good talk with them about spending and make sure they go to you if they do run short, as the alternative are the high street banks who can't fall over themselves fast enough to offer an overdraft or credit card to the kids, it's how they get them hooked on a line of credit and turn them into customers/profit for life.

If you want to contribute to their beer money, realise that most student union bars are seriously cheep. Other than drinking to much, the biggest cost for some of my contemporaries was food, once they were in their 2nd year and living out. If you can't cook for sh-t, surviving off ready meals and takeaways is fiendishly expensive.
Blue Straggler - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to mattrm:
>
> Doubt you'll see much change out of 10k if anything. Plus the fees on top of that. It'll be 40k all in once you've done a standard 3 year course I reckon.

Would that not be more like 57k if we are talking 10k pa on "living" plus 9k pa on fees?

I feel lucky to have gone through the system a long time ago. I did a 12 month M.Sc entirely funded by Bank of Mum and Dad and we worked out the costs at the end of the course. 6.7k all in (fees, rent, food, travel). Including 6 months living in London (and 5 months living in Greece which was admittedly cheap at 80 pcm and I stole my lunch every day from the uni canteen, ahem). My only one hardship was that I didn't go to see The Fifth Element on the big screen as I was "saving money" that week.
ByEek - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to mattrm:

> I'd probably say that another 1500 per term would about cover things.

Gulp! Really? Back in good old 1995 I managed to get through my first term on less than 30 a week including nights out and about!
SCrossley on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to chubbs2:
Depends a bit on your income but student loan will just about cover accommodation in halls 115 per week with a little bit over or under. I give my daughter 100 per week to cover beer and food, if she wants anymore she better get a job, she has worked every weekend for the last 2/3 years so happy with her work ethic. It`s also cost me a laptop a colour telly a laser printer couple of hundred for text books, then there is bedding pans first week or two`s food, couple of hundred for freshers week so maybe 4 or 5 K in the first year at uni, great innit.
If your kids smart and gets 3a`s or a*`s you might get 1 or 2 K from the Uni.
wintertree - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler:
> (In reply to mattrm)
> [...]
>
> Would that not be more like 57k if we are talking 10k pa on "living" plus 9k pa on fees?
NO NO NO. I find myself repeating this until I am blue in the face.

The fees are not paid up front. They are paid by the government. Then, if you graduate and earn over 25k/year they are repaid in instalments that scale from 0 at that boundary to higher levels as your salary rises. Some fraction of people going to university will not hit this threshold and will never pay a cent. For the rest it looks and works more like a tax. For everyone, it doesn't count towards credit scores, doesn't bring debt collectors to the door, and expires after a fixed period of time. It will affect mortgage assessments based on "affordability" by forming a minor expense on people's outgoings.

As for the 10k pa on "living", what planet does that come from? A flat in knightsbridge and food from Fortnum and Mason? (I know that part was you quoting someone else).




JJL - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to chubbs2:

My son is in his first term; I have gone into this in some detail.

First, separate the costs from the source of the funds to pay them.

The costs are:
1. Tuition. Although nominally course/university-specific, virtually all are 9k per year
2. Accommodation and living expenses. Varies by area, whether you live in university accommodation or outside, and by style of room. Typically 4k/year for non-catered accommodaiton and 6k/year for catered. 2k/year for food makes them, the same. then add X/week for beer, going out, books, clothes, travel, Christmas...whatever. 100-120/week for food and the rest seems common. Total either way, about another 9k.

The sources of funds are:
1. A fees loan - the full amount up to 9k/year
2. A maintenance loan/grant for living expenses. This is means tested and also depends on London/not; living at home/away. For 2013 living away outside London is 5500 max. The full detail (and a calculator) is here:
https://www.gov.uk/student-finance
3. Parents, savings, holiday jobs.

Either of the two loans creates a debt for the student.
The debt accrues interest at:
- RPI plus 3% whilst studying
- 0% while not studying and earning less than 21k
- Above 21k earnings, RPI plus 0.1% per 1k over 21k to a max of plus 3%

The debt is repayable, for 30 years after finishing the course, at 9% of earnings over 21k and then, after 30 years, any remaining balance is written off.

I might be slightly off with some of the numbers above - I don't have my spreadsheet to hand. They are in th elink above and moneysavingexpert has an excellent article on the issue of whether to pay up front or not.

You need to build a spreadsheet and also make some estimates of likely earning profile post course.

HTH
Kjones - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to JJL:

Just come across this thread and well done to JJL for getting it almost spot on. I work in the University sector, have one son who graduated in 2009 and a daughter still at uni (doing medicine). We have worked every which way on the fee and maintenance loan (not a grant) but it cost roughly 9k per year to live (maybe another 1-2k in London). So take out both loans and you still need to find about 4k. Currently our daughter takes out both loans and we pay her rent. Our son did likewise. He is now paying back his loan at 6% COMPOUND interest - quite a nice deal for the privatised Student Loan Company but it feels like a tax for him.

My advice is to choose a good university in an inexpensive part of the UK (unless you are Scottish, of course when the fee issue disappears) so East Midlands is good (Leicester, Loughborough Nottingham); Durham is good but places like Bristol or Birmingham can be more expensive than you think.
Richard Baynes - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to JJL: I'm in the same position with my son just having started uni, and I'm hoping that it's not 9k cost on top of fees: I think we'd be looking at no more than around 7k but he's got a good deal on catered halls. Interested though JJL in how the loan repayments work: when (if ever!) he starts earning more than 21k does he only pay the 9% on the part of his gross income which is above 21k?
JJL - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to Richard Baynes:

Correct
JJL - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to Kjones:
> (In reply to JJL)
>
> Just come across this thread and well done to JJL for getting it almost spot on.

Oops - what did I get wrong?
chubbs2 - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to JJL: Now back on line...thanks for all the comments, especially JLJ. I've finally got it - the govt website is very good.

Chubbs
ads.ukclimbing.com
Wainers44 - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to chubbs2: one trick we missed when son number one went to uni was the effect of first, second, or third choice can make.

we only worked out late in the process that some uni's offer burserys, but only if they are first choice! Dont know how widespread this is but maybe something to watch for?

If you stay away from the higher cost city uni's there doesnt seem to be much difference between costs. So after course and uni quality the only other really important things are right location for their interests (access to mountains...sea...city whatever..) and then maybe employment opportunities.
hedgepig - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to chubbs2:
I calculated my sons' living costs after paying rent at approx the oldage pension, ie 97 per week.

The loan repayment works as a graduate tax, but I can't believe that the terms won't get unilaterally changed for the worse if not enough people get well-paying jobs to start the repayments. You can't pay it off early with a windfall/inheritance either, without paying them all the interest that would have accumulated (like the penalty for paying off a mortgage early).

An engineering student might get paid vacation work. And my engineering son has a sideline in fixing people's bikes.

Coel Hellier - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to Richard Baynes:

> I'm in the same position with my son just having started uni, ...

Is that that little kid that I played with a couple of times? If so, doesn't time fly.
JJL - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to hedgepig:
> You can't pay it off early with a windfall/inheritance either, without paying them all the interest that would have accumulated (like the penalty for paying off a mortgage early).
>


No longer true I think
joem - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to sjc: 100 a week for food and beer, think I'm getting short changed my my parents I'm a student at the moment and i get 220 a month works out as more or less half that!
Ashley - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to hedgepig:

> You can't pay it off early with a windfall/inheritance either, without paying them all the interest that would have accumulated (like the penalty for paying off a mortgage early).


As JJL said, no longer correct:

http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/loans/2012/02/student-loan-early-repayment-penalty-plan-scrapp...
neilh - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to chubbs2:

The universties are getting their act together - at last - about providing the info you need. I would try and get on the sessions they all do at this time of year targetting next years students.You will find during your visits theirs loads of info/advice on budgeting etc.

The best advice I had from another parent was do not pay for their living costs to keep their debt down ( other than what you have to pay). Savy students will just go and borrow the money anyway without their parents knowledge). Better to pay anything back after they have completed the course.
tlm - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to joem:
> (In reply to sjc) 100 a week for food and beer, think I'm getting short changed my my parents I'm a student at the moment and i get 220 a month works out as more or less half that!

I thought that! I work and spend as much as I want to, but I spend about 25 per week on food, washing powder, toiletries etc and most weeks I spend about 20 on going out, which includes wall fees, choir fees etc.

When I was a student, students didn't have new clothes, but wore second hand jumble sale stuff, or army surplus. We didn't have phones, cars, tellys, or computers. We walked, or had second hand bikes and lived in freezing houses with no central heating but plenty of damp. We shopped at the market and didn't eat meat very often, but ate a lot of lentils! Blimy - I even had to pay a mate to take me to university in the first place. My parents didn't give me anything at all, not even somewhere to stay in the holidays! I always had part time jobs, and had holidays which involved hitch hiking and camping for free.

I quite agree with students having warm dry houses and a computer to work on, but if you are living off other people's earnings, then you should be happy to limit your luxuries, surely?

mattrm - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to ByEek:
> (In reply to mattrm)
>
> [...]
>
> Gulp! Really? Back in good old 1995 I managed to get through my first term on less than 30 a week including nights out and about!

My last year at uni (doing my masters) iirc, came to about 10k. Which was roughly 3k for fees, 4k for accomodation and 3k for three terms. So that was about 1k per 10 week term (but my money also had to cover expenditure when at home on holidays). That was in 2005. So yeah, I could easily see 1500 per term being about right. You could definitely spend less, if you were frugal.


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