The costs of going to university can be divided into two parts. Firstly, the cost of the tuition fees to do the degree course and secondly the living costs and course related costs needed to study.
With regards to the tuition fees - these vary depending on the course your child chooses to study and the university / college they choose to attend. Tuition fees can be anything up to a maximum of £9250 per year. This fee covers all of the costs associated with teaching your child in their chosen degree subject, attending the university and using all of the study facilities such as the library / computer equipment.
It normally covers everything associated with teaching the course except for any books and study materials or any field trips that may be offered to complement the course.
It is important to note however that there are no upfront costs payable for tuition fees because every student can get a loan (Fee Loan) paid by the government as part of their funding support that will fully cover the cost of the tuition fees for each year of the course.
For more information about the cost of repaying the governments loans, see the question - How will my child pay back a government loan for higher education?
Your child can apply for a loan to cover some of their living costs, like rent, bills and food.
The cost of accommodation can vary significantly depending on where your child chooses to live. Many universities offer on-campus accommodation such as a halls of residence, some of which can include catering as well. Some universities offer a range of on-campus accommodation which can vary in price. Whilst on-campus accommodation can be very convenient for students and can save students money on travel to and from university, it is generally more expensive than other off-campus accommodation options such as a student house in the private rented sector.
Many bigger cities have student accommodation located in the city centre. This may not be owned by the university, it may just be a halls of residence style of accommodation aimed at students. City centre student accommodation is also generally more expensive than other off-campus alternatives.
It is important to bear in mind that the amount of funding support given to students by the government does not take into account the varying prices of student accommodation around the country. The government simply give students an amount of money in the form of loans to cover their living costs - and it is up to the student to choose how to spend it. It is therefore very important to look at how much money your child will have in funding support before choosing accommodation.
Maintenance loans given to students are to go towards paying for all of their living costs whilst at university. This includes not only accommodation, but also food, bills, travel and course related costs such as books and materials. It is important to be aware however, that the loans for living costs will not normally be enough to cover all of a students living costs when at university, especially if they select more expensive accommodation. Therefore, most students work part time up to 15 or 20 hours per week, whilst at university in order to make ends meet, unless they have savings or some other income, or unless parents are able to contribute towards their living cost support. It may therefore be important for your child to shop around when it comes to selecting student accommodation to ensure that they have enough money to make ends meet whilst at university.
Financial support that does not have to be paid back
Some of the financial support available does not have to be paid back:
- Bursaries scholarships and awards -Many universities will offer additional funding to certain target groups. This may include for example, students from a lower income background, care leavers or disabled students. Some universities may offer a reduction in tuition fees or possibly a free year on some courses and some universities may offer a bursary which is a non-repayable grant. Each university will decide what support they’ll offer so encourage your child to check to see what their chosen universities are offering and whether they are eligible.
Parents Learning Allowance, Childcare Grant, Adult Dependents Grant & Disabled Students Allowances -these are sources of money for students who are also parents and/or students who have an adult with a very low income who is financially dependent on them and/or disabled students. Find out more from gov.uk
Find out more about student finance and loans from gov.uk
Which? University - Advice for parents
Which? University - Parents: five student bills you should know about