A parent’s guide to: Demystifying University Finances

The School Report Blog

A parent’s guide to: Demystifying University Finances


For parents who haven’t experienced university firsthand, understanding the financial aspects of higher education can be a daunting task. From tuition fees to accommodation costs and financial support options, there’s a lot to consider. In this blog, we’ll start to break down the basics of university finances and explore the various funding options available to support your child’s educational journey.


The Cost of University

First and foremost, let’s address the big question: how much does university actually cost? While the cost can vary depending on factors such as location, course of study, and lifestyle choices, there are some common expenses to consider.

  1. Tuition Fees

Tuition fees are one of the most significant expenses associated with university education. In England, tuition fees for undergraduate courses are currently capped at £9,250 per year for full-time students at most universities. However, it’s important to note that tuition fees can vary for international students and students from other parts of the UK, such as Scotland and Wales.

  1. Accommodation Costs

Another major expense to consider is accommodation. Whether your child chooses to live in university halls of residence or private accommodation, the cost of rent, utilities, and other living expenses can add up quickly. On-campus accommodation may offer convenience and support services, but it can also be more expensive than renting privately. Encourage your child to research accommodation options carefully and budget accordingly.

Student Loans

Despite the costs associated with university education, there are various funding options available to help alleviate financial burden. Students may be eligible for government financial support to help cover the cost of tuition fees and living expenses. In England, eligible students can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan and a Maintenance Loan to help cover the cost of their studies and living expenses. These loans are repaid gradually once the student has graduated and is earning above a certain income threshold, much like a tax. It’s important for your child to understand the terms and conditions of student loans before applying including the repayment details. MoneySavingExpert has a good calculator that can be used to help understand what repayments can look like.

The loans rarely cover the full cost of university and Martin Lewis has a breakdown and explanation of what student loans are, and information about how much parents (or the student) will need to cover to fill the potential income gap.

Scholarships and Bursaries

In addition to government loans, Scholarships and bursaries are forms of financial aid that students can apply for to support their studies. Scholarships are typically awarded based on academic merit, extracurricular achievements, or specific criteria set by the university or external organisations. Bursaries, on the other hand, are awarded based on financial need and may be provided by the government, universities, or other charitable institutions. The Scholarship Hub is a good place to see what is on offer at different universities, although this may not have all the details so you may need to go directly to the university websites.


Budgeting and Financial Planning

Finally, encourage your child to develop good budgeting habits and financial planning skills before starting university. Help them create a realistic budget that takes into account their income, expenses, and any financial support they may receive. Encourage them to explore part-time work opportunities, budgeting apps, and financial literacy resources to help them manage their finances responsibly.



Dr Andrew Ross

Andrew was the first in his family to go to university, he got a degree and then a PhD in Chemistry. He is now the Head of Access and Participation at the University of Bath where he leads teams of people who support children to develop the skills and knowledge to make the best choices for them.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/drandrewross/    /    @drandrewross