Parents say they are contributing £360 each month to support their children at university, with some forced to dip into their savings or take on second jobs to help with rent and food costs, according to a new report by Which?
The survey of more than 800 parents found that more than four in five were planning to contribute to their child’s living expenses, with nearly half of all parents saying they were surprised at the costs involved.
“All my earnings go into supporting my children, and we have gone without many things to support them,” one parent of three students told Which?
Of those making contributions, two-thirds said they were paying out of their monthly earnings, and the rest were either using their savings or, in the case of 6% of parents, taking a second job to raise the money.
One in four parents of current or prospective students said they were cutting back on their own spending, including not taking holidays, buying a new car or spending on home improvements, to afford to support their children.
Accommodation costs, including rent and utilities, were the biggest expense mentioned, followed by food and study materials.
“Sending a child to university is an exciting milestone, but it is also a major financial commitment – so parents should be aware that they’re likely to have to find considerable sums to support their offspring beyond the headline costs for fees and accommodation,” said Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?
University student funding policy is devolved to the UK’s four national governments. Students living in England are eligible for maintenance loans that vary depending on their parents’ income – with higher-earning parents expected to make up the difference.
Students from households in England earning a maximum of £25,000 will next year receive maintenance loans worth nearly £9,000 to study away from home outside of London. But the loan falls to less than £6,400 a year if their parents’ income is above £45,000 a year.
The Welsh government’s more generous package of support includes a £1,000 grant for all students, and combined loans and grants up to as much as £11,500 for students living in London.
A recent review of post-18 education in England recommended that the government reinstate grants rather than loans to support students from poorer backgrounds. But any decision by the government is waiting on a new prime minister and cabinet.