We all know that university costs these days. Long gone are the student grants of the past. However, are you aware of the average student living costs per week? Until about a year before Chloe went to University, we had not really factored in just how bloody expensive a University Education would be for us parents.
I have written many times about how hard Chloe worked to get the grades needed for University, the girl who flew under the radar and nailed her A Levels she basically had her pick of the Universities and she chose Plymouth. When we started the finance process we knew that everything was loans, we knew that she would be investing in her future and would rack up debt. We viewed this as a graduate tax and understood that Chloe would be paying back the loans when she was earning. The system seems fair from the outside, Chloe will pay back a percentage, that is deducted at source. We knew the tuition fees were about £9,000 a year but that is only half of the story.
A University student still needs to eat and sleep and this is where it gets more expensive and where fundamentally the system seems unfair. You see the living loan is means tested. The amount given to the University student is based on their parent’s or the household income. If you come from a single parent family the living loan is calculated solely on the parent you live with. This is fundamentally unfair as it penalises married couples. I know many separated families and both parents support the teenager, but the system gives those teens the full living loan. The application process also does not leave any allowances for the parents living costs, no idea about mortgages or the cost of siblings and maybe their schooling. Instead, it is black and white. What is your income? Then this is what you get!
We found ourselves on pretty much the lowest tier meaning that we are expected to top up the amount Chloe gets by several thousand a year. We had no idea just how much we were going to need to give her each week before we started this process. I now tell everyone with teenagers to start saving for a university education. Chloe is not extravagant thankfully but the average student living costs per week are still more than we had expected.
Now that Chloe has been at Plymouth University for one semester I thought that I would give you an idea of the average student living costs per week that we are having to find.
Chloe receives about £4000 a year for her living loan which over 52 weeks is just £76. If you take out the summer months we don’t pay hall costs then this equates to £88 per week. Now on first thoughts, £88 per week sounds doable, doesn’t it? Until you look at the vast sums we are paying for accommodation. Most students will live in a halls of residence, a small box room with shared facilities. Chloe does have an ensuite in her room, which is a wet room style, so basically, a cupboard in size that has a toilet, sink and shower in it. It is not luxurious, its pretty damn basic actually and this costs £150 per week.
If you do the Maths you will see there is now already a shortfall of £2600 before she eats! Chloe also plays hockey and pays about £6 a week match fees. She has needed a whole new kit that cost a few hundred but that is a one-off fee.
Chloe is also given £45 a week by me to pay for food and everything else. Take off the hockey match fees and we will call it £40 a week to live on. I don’t think £40 is much and it doesn’t go far.
Lets tally that up, I don’t give her that money when she is at home so even taking out Christmas, Easter and the summer break that leaves 36 weeks a year which equates to a whooping £1620 at the basic level. This figure added to the accommodation is £4220 or £117 per week.
This doesn’t include any extras she needs, like a textbook or something else for her course.
We are giving Chloe £117 per week to cover her accommodation and food and this is the average Student Living Costs Per Week. It is such a lot of money to find every single week and there is little we can do about it. We have to find this or else she does not eat! The cost of a University education is now backbreaking and whilst I do want to see those from poorer backgrounds getting the full living loan to attend the university I just wish there was more financial support for us middle-class families. We are being squeezed in so many ways and the system is simply unfair. The wealthy can afford to support their kids and not worry about student debt. Those with less are given the full loan in order for their child to attend and they will only pay it back when earning a certain amount. Many won’t ever pay it all back because it is capped and after so long it will be wiped. We, on the other hand, are paying a fortune every single week to give our teenagers the same opportunity and as the parents, we are funding this and it does impact on our family finances.
Did you know that the average student living costs per week would be this much? My advice to parents of teens now is to start saving as soon as you can for the university education. If the teen doesn’t end up going you will have the money set aside for anything else but honestly be prepared, especially if you are a married couple with a fairly decent income because you will be funding the university education.