Money matters

Going to university is a big investment, and we understand you may be concerned about the cost. As parents or carers, you might also be worried about how your daughter or son will manage their money. But the financial side needn’t be a cause of stress.

What they pay for Tuition fees help pay for the university’s costs such as salaries, the cost of equipment and the running of the facilities your child will use during their studies.

What they cover The fee should cover your child’s tuition, use of equipment and facilities, libraries and ICT rooms, compulsory field trips, union membership, and student support services like careers and finance.

What they don’t cover You may need to budget for additional course costs such as textbooks, study resources, course materials or clothing, printing and photocopying, and general living costs. To find out more about individual course costs, please see the course information online.

How much will the fees be Currently the maximum a university in England, Scotland and N. Ireland can charge is £9,250 a year; £9,000 in Wales. However, fees for individual courses vary – but won’t go over the maximum allowed – so check the fees when you read each course description.

If your child will be a UK undergraduate, they can apply for student loans to help pay their university fees and support them as they study. Your child won’t have to pay back these loans until they have left university and are earning over a certain amount, currently £25,000 per annum. The loans are accessed via Student Finance England, Wales or Northern Ireland, and the Student Awards Agency in Scotland.

Tuition fee loan payments go straight to the university.

Maintenance loan covers a UK student’s living expenses – like rent and grocery shopping – and the amount your child receives depends on various factors including where they live and study, and your household income. So you will need to supply your National Insurance number, which Student Finance will use to establish your household income directly from HMRC.

There’s a sliding scale to how much your child will be awarded based on household income and where you will live. For 2023/2024 academic year, if your child lives away from home, outside London, the maintenance loan is up to £9,978 per academic year but there’s no guarantee your child will be awarded the full amount. It may be that you are asked to top up their income.

When to apply You should certainly apply as early as possible as it can take six weeks or more to process. We recommend starting your child’s application just after shortlisting their firm and insurance choices – they don’t have to have accepted a place before they apply for their loans.

When will the money reach the bank Once your child’s loans have been approved, they will be sent a student finance entitlement letter with a declaration they need to sign and return. They should then take a copy of this letter with them when they go to register at university. After registration, Student Finance will make a first maintenance payment into your child’s account. After that, your child should receive an instalment at the start of each term.

Your child will have to reapply for student finance each year of their course.

Claiming extra help Your child may be entitled to additional allowances and funding: for example, if you are a low-income family, your child is disabled or a care leaver. Find out more at GOV.UK - Student finance

Universities often offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to help students pay for the cost of a degree, one of the aspects of study that is well worth investigating before your child decides on their place.

At Bedfordshire, we offer a generous range of scholarships and bursaries to help students access higher education. For example, if your child is studying a full-time undergraduate degree, they could be eligible for our bursary, worth £1,000 over three academic years or £1,300 if they are taking their course over four academic years (including those with a Foundation Year). And if your child scores over 120 UCAS points, they could be eligible for our Merit Scholarship, worth £2,400 over three years.

Your child may also be entitled to bursaries or funding related to their course. For instance, if your child is studying a health, medical or social work degree.

Your child will need their own bank account so payments for the maintenance loan can be easily banked along with other top-up income. It will also give them their own debit card, a necessity in our increasingly cash-less society.

Students entering higher education are lucky to have banks vying for their custom so your child can benefit from a bundle of extra goodies. However, some accounts offer a lot of glitter but very little gold and – with your more experienced eye - you can help your child find the best deals.

For example, a guaranteed overdraft spanning the length of your child’s course is very useful. A set of exclusive earbuds? Great to have but not as useful if you’re waiting for your student loan to come through.

It’s easy to compare student bank accounts online through comparison sites. To get you started, try:

What your child needs to open a bank account:

  • UCAS confirmation of an unconditional offer; or
  • UCAS confirmation of a conditional offer, with exam results; or
  • confirmation from their university that they have a place
  • photo ID like a passport or driver’s licence
  • proof of address

Once your child has an account, make sure they let Student Finance know the account details.

Many students choose to work part-time while they’re studying; as well as providing some extra money, it also allows them to develop their transferable skills and enhance their CV. They should check with their university, though, before accepting a job: some universities actively discourage students from taking on a job alongside their studies; others will put recommended limits on the number of hours.

At Beds, we understand students may need to top up their money but wouldn’t recommend your child take on anything more than 20 hours a week. Our Careers and Employability Service helps students link up with local employers to find part-time work. There’s also a range of workshops available including CV writing and interview skills.

Many universities offer in-house part-time work opportunities. For example, at Beds, we employ Student Ambassadors to assist at open events, deliver campus tours and give talks to new students. Taking on the role develops skills such as time management, customer service and team work. Many ambassadors go on to use this work as a reference for their first job out of university.

You should prepare your daughter or son for managing money well in advance of their loan reaching the bank. It’s very important they understand their loan income is termly so it has to last around three months per instalment.

Introduce the reality of budgeting and spending limits

  • Go through the monthly inflow/outflow budget for the household (probably avoid opening an A2 spreadsheet, though!). It may come as a surprise to your child that there’s such a thing as council tax
  • Encourage them to start budgeting their own income, even if it’s just their allowance. Give them a goal: to put aside an amount each week to use as a ‘float’ when they start uni. Will they sink or swim?
  • Once they’re at uni, work with them to draw up their own budget for the term covering the essentials: accommodation; bills including mobile phone; travel; groceries; study materials; and perhaps running a car. Whatever is left over is their spending money
  • Calculate their weekly amount of spending money - just in case they blow their entire entertainment budget for the term in one weekend! It has happened…

There’s an app for everything

…and budgeting is no exception: there are calculator apps for planning ahead and trackers to make sure they’re not overspending. They could also open an app-based bank account purely for their spending money: leave funds for all essential outgoings in the main current account then transfer what’s left to the digital/mobile bank. Save the Student features reviews of online and app-based budget calculators, trackers and banking along with other useful information.

Look for ways to save money

  • Reassess their monthly outgoings: do they really need Amazon Prime? Gym membership? Could they get a cheaper mobile-phone deal?
  • Try to steer them away from shopping routinely at a small local store. Encourage them to buy in bulk at a larger, cost-cutting superstore instead
  • Tell them not to buy branded grocery items – supermarket own-brands are much cheaper with (usually) very little difference in quality
  • Set your child up with a supermarket saver card
  • Get them into recycling: selling on nearly new clothes, accessories and tech; buying second-hand themselves
  • Take advantage of discounts offered by the university. For example, Bedfordshire offers new students discounts for local businesses as well as free or reduced-rate use of our gyms and Get Active programme
  • Join Beds Students’ Union and use the BedsSU card to get great discounts

Financial support

Financial worries shouldn't stop your child from enjoying their time at uni so look out for what is offered to support them if money's tight. At Bedfordshire, we have a raft of services to help with cost of living including financial hardship funding. Find out more at our cost-of-living hub


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