The cost of getting an education has never been as high. The increase in tuition fees to a maximum of £9,000 per year has sent the overall cost of a three-year degree soaring to around £75,000.
The average debt upon graduation for students starting university in 2012 is thought to be £53,000 – more than double the average UK salary. However, it seems that both students and parents are underestimating the true cost of their education. Students expect to leave university with just less than £25,000 debt, whereas parents are even further removed from reality, estimating just over £18,000.
Students used to be able to depend on the bank of mum and dad to finance their studies, but a combination of rising costs and the tough economic climate means that’s becoming much less likely. The burden isn’t just on parents anymore either, around 14% of grandparents are contributing an average £1,967 to university fees as well.
As a result, parents are going to extremes to fund their children’s education, with 3% downsizing, 4% taking out a loan and 10% using all their savings. They are making other sacrifices too; a quarter are giving up annual holidays, a fifth putting off buying a new car and more than one in 10 are working for longer than they want to.
Parents are keen for their kids to find a way to keep the cost of university down, with 13% suggesting a part-time job and 45% telling them to stay at home. Despite the obvious financial gain, just 7% of students plan on working throughout university and 18% will stay under their parents’ roof.
If you’re worried about your education putting a major dent in your bank balance and impacting on your family finances, but don’t want to give up the student lifestyle, here are some top tips for cutting the cost of university.
Apply for a student bank account
Just about everyone is feeling the effects of the credit crunch – apart from students. The banks are as eager as ever to offer university students huge credit limits. By applying for a student account, you’ll likely get a huge interest free overdraft to help you cover expenses when you’re running dry. Most student bank accounts also have other benefits, such as a free 5-year railcard. This way you can save a third on rail fares when visiting the family at Christmas.
Take advantage of your UCAS card
There are thousands of places where students can get money off purchases just by showing their UCAS card. While some retailers will advertise the savings to encourage students to buy, others keep them quiet. Never shy away from asking whether the retailer offers a student discount – you might be surprised at how much money you could save.
Earn money the easy way
Your parents might expect you to get a part-time job, but that would eat into the time you spend partying and sleeping. However, there are some other ways to earn money, none of which will involve you pulling pints at the local pub.
The internet has brought about a wealth of opportunities to boost your income, from mystery shopping to completing online surveys and writing essays. It’s also worth signing up for university research as you can get paid for taking part in certain experiments.
To start saving for the cost of university, you can compare savings accounts with Money Expert.
Study in a different country
If you’ve always wanted to spread your wings and escape the confines of your home town, how about studying abroad? Did you know that higher education for EU students is free in Denmark? You’ll have to be willing to pay an application fee for your registration certificate, but that’s a fraction of the £9,000 tuition fees in the UK.
Find a wacky scholarship
Due to the huge cost of university these days, the scholarships or bursaries offered by your university are few and far between. However, there are some independent bursaries that could award students thousands of pounds with all sorts of weird eligibility criteria.
For example, the Vegetarian Society will give those in financial need up to £500, provided they promise not to eat meat. Think that’s weird? The Yorkshire Ladies Council of Education will award up to £300 to women over the age of 21, but you don’t even need to be from Yorkshire. Study in the Welsh language and you can apply for up to £3,000 through the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol Scholarship.