Having a child applying for University is a bit of a minefield in many ways. Not only does this signify a huge change to the family dynamics it also shows they are nearing adulthood. My millenium baby is in this boat and I always knew this year would be a roller coaster of emotions.
The highs and the lows roll daily, with it optimism for her future and crushing lows after an assessed piece of work not meeting her own standards. Throw in the UCAS application process and the stress levels are high. Really high.
In my mind I have prepared for this happening, as a former sixth form teacher and tutor I know this age group well. I know how the UCAS process works, the open days, the personal statement and student finance. Yet doing it as a parent is a whole new experience.
After chatting about student finance with other parents, friends and bloggers it seems that there is still much fear of the student debt. For those not knowing the system, tuiton fees are covered for all UK students , they are covered by a loan that is paid back after graduation and when the graduate is earning above a set amount. Then there is a maintenance loan to cover accomodation and living costs. This is a means tested loan based on parental income, again it is paid back after the graduate earns a certain level.
Although the student debt sounds a lot, many won’t ever pay back the full amount. I see the debt as part of delayed gratification. The outcomes of future earnings are relative to the debt. A graduate will earn more in the majority of cases than non graduates. However it seems that many are still put off with this. I was shocked to find out that because of our earnings we are looking at needing to give Chloe about £125 per week to top up her expected maintenance loan. That is more than I had thought.
When I mentioned this online I was surprised to that so many said they would expect their child to look somewhere else if this was the cost. Or maybe they would expect them to not move away to study. I totally understand that for some this cost is off putting. Some students will get a maintenance loan that covers more of the living costs because parents are in a lower income bracket. And that is right. However that actually leaves them with a bigger debt and considering this group is the group most fearful of debt it seems a shame.
I will have to massive change to my spending to give Chloe this money. Yes, we earn enough but we also have high outgoings. I will notice £500 disappearing each month. It will be signficant to us.
However I will still encourage her to go to the Uni that she picked out. A degree is required for many jobs, and she can’t get the qualifications any other way. To be a teacher or to work in the public services (including the police from 2019) a degree is needed. In a similar way I honestly think uni is about more than the academic qualifications. Chloe will get the chance to play high level hockey and learn to live independently.
Chloe will work in the holidays but is unlikely to have time in term time due to her course and the hockey side of things. Yes Uni is expensive but as a parent I will do all I can to give her every opportunity. When she was little I paid for her to try all sorts of clubs, we did music, drama, dancing the list goes on. This was done to find her talents, to allow her to experience things until she found what she really loved. Obviously that is sport, keeping fit and especially hockey.
Chloe has worked hard academically, she over achieved at GCSE level due to her own work ethic, she has chosen to go to university and so we will fund what is expected. I just need to start saving for Dylan and Erin incase they also choose to go to university.
I’d love to know where other parents parents stand on the cost of university. Will you try to reduce the cost by encouraging them to study locally or encourage an alternative path to avoid the student debt altogether?