Parents ‘forgoing luxuries and taking second jobs’ to help meet university costs

By Josie Clarke, PA Consumer Affairs Correspondent
Half of parents with children at university have found the overall costs to be more than they expected, a survey for Which? suggests.

Parents are sacrificing new cars and holidays and some are taking on second jobs to financially support their child at university, according to research.

A quarter of parents (26%) have had to or intend to cut back on luxury spending such as holidays, new cars or home improvements to cover the costs of their child’s tertiary education, while 6% have or will have to take on a second job, a survey for consumer group Which? suggests.

Just over eight in 10 parents of current students (84%) are financially supporting their child at university and 49% of them said the overall cost was more than they expected.

Parents’ contributions averaged £360 a month, according to the poll.

Two-thirds of parents (66%) told Which? they use or will use their monthly income to cover the cost and 27% said the funds came or would come from their savings.

A third (34%) said they had or will cut down on day-to-day spending and another 32% said they will encourage their child to get a job or save in other ways.

Parents of current students said they contributed to living costs including accommodation, bills and food (56%), study materials (37%), outings and hobbies (28%) and tuition fees (10%).

One parent with three children at university told Which?: “All my earnings go into supporting my children, and we have gone without many things to support them.”

In a separate survey of students, Which? found that half received additional money from their parents, with around four in 10 (44%) saying they had spent more money on accommodation than they expected to. The same proportion (43%) said course expenses cost them more than they had anticipated.

Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, said: “Sending a child to university is an exciting milestone, but it is also a major financial commitment – so parents should be aware that they’re likely to have to find considerable sums to support their offspring beyond the headline costs for fees and accommodation.

“There are a number of steps that parents and students can take to ease the financial burden of going to university, and taking some time to think about these options ahead of time can potentially help save a lot of money in the long run.”

YouGov surveyed 846 parents of current and prospective undergraduate students February 28 and March 7. Youthsite surveyed 3,874 undergraduate students currently studying towards their first degree at a UK university between March 20 and April 12.