January 19th 2015

With record numbers of UK students being accepted for full time university courses, it will come as no surprise to you that that young people across the UK are more likely to begin university than ever before. With almost 496,000 students beginning full-time undergraduate courses last year, this means that 40% of young people in the UK had entered higher education by the age of 19.University Challenge - finacial advice for parents and children

If you have children who are still at school and hoping to go to university there are a number of things you should know about and start planning for now.  Of course estimating ‘average’ costs is difficult because there’s no such thing as an ‘average’ student – it all depends on factors like your institution, course and part of the UK you live in, plus your personal circumstances, which influence the grants, loans and benefits you’re entitled to.

If you have children who are planning on going to university you will know that they are going to need your help and support during this costly stage of their life. And if you haven’t been to university yourself or it’s been a little while since you did go, we thought it would be useful if we helped to set the record straight with a guide on the current costs as well as the financial support and loans that might be available to you.

The Student Awards Agency for Scotland or SAAS as they are known are an agency of the Scottish Government which gives financial support to eligible students doing a course of higher education in the UK and handle applications from undergraduate and postgraduate students. Here is a summary of the costs and financial support that is potentially available to you here in Scotland.

Tuition fees
If your son or daughter is planning to study full-time in Scotland and meets the eligibility conditions of SAAS, they will pay the fees each year. The standard rate SAAS pay this year (2014) is as follows:

HNC, HND or equivalent £1,285
Degree or equivalent £1,820

SAAS do not pay your fees automatically when you accept a place on a course. You must apply to SAAS to have your fees paid in each year of your course. They will then pay your fees straight to your college or university.

If you are studying elsewhere in the UK, you will have to pay your own fees. The amount you will pay each year will be up to £9,000.

You should contact the college or university you are studying at to find out the amount of tuition fee they will charge you. If you meet the eligibility conditions of SAAS, you can choose to take out a student loan to pay all or some of your fees. The amount of loan you can get does not depend on your and your household’s income.

Part-time fee grant
The part time fee grant is available if you planning to study with a Scottish college, university or approved training provider. To qualify for this funding, you should have an individual income of £25,000 a year or less. The level of tuition fee SAAS can pay will depend on the number of credits you do and the qualification you are studying for.

Young Students’ Bursary (YSB) and Student Loan for living costs

If you are from a low income family, you may be eligible for this Bursary. Most school leavers will be classed as young but even if you haven’t left school recently, you may still be eligible. You do not have to pay this back. You can use it for your general living costs while you study.

SAAS will pay a bursary of £1,750 if your household income is less than £17,000 a year. They do not provide any bursary if your household income is £34,000 or more.

You can use the Student Loan for your general living costs. If you decide to take out a student loan, you have to repay it. The amount of loan and bursary you can apply for depends on your household income. SAAS will use gross income to work out how much you will get. However, there is a loan available to all students of up to £4,750 a year, no matter what the household income is.  You can choose how much of this loan you want to take.

The table below shows how much loan and bursary you will get based on your household income.

Household Income Bursary      Student Loan         Total
£0 to £16,999                    £1,750           £5,750                          £7,500
£17,000 to £23,999         £1,000          £5,750                          £6,750
£24,000 to £33,999        £500             £5,750                          £6,250
£34,000 and above         £0                  £4,750                          £4,750

Other living costs grants
Depending on your personal circumstances, you may be able to apply for other living costs grants that you do not have to pay back.

Dependants’ Grant
You can claim this income assessed grant for your husband, wife, civil partner or partner. You cannot claim this grant for another student. If your husband, wife, civil partner or partner has any income, this may affect your entitlement. SAAS will pay up to £2,640 a year.

Lone Parents’ Grant
You can claim this income assessed grant if you are single, widowed, divorced, separated or your civil partnership has dissolved, and you are bringing up children on your own. SAAS will pay up to £1,305 a year.

Disabled Students Allowance (DSA)
If you have a disability or learning difficulty, you may be eligible to claim for certain extra expenses that arise because you are on a course. The amount of support SAAS can give you does not depend on your or your household income.

Household income
If your household income is £34,000 or more, you will not need to fill in the income section of the SAAS application. The income they will take into account:

•    If both parents live together, SAAS will use both their incomes.
•    If parents are separated, divorced or no longer live together, SAAS will use the income of the parent son or daughter normally lives with.
•    If parent lives with a partner or you have a step-parent, SAAS will use their income as well as the parent son or daughter lives with.
•    If you are married or live with a partner, SAAS will use their income.
•    SAAS do not take any earned income you have into account.
•    However, if you have any unearned income, such as income from property, they will take this into account as part of the household income.

What income SAAS take into account:
For those who pay tax while they earn (PAYE), SAAS take the total gross income. For those who are self-employed and those who have income from property, they use the taxable profit. For those who are unemployed, SAAS only take replacement living-cost benefits into account, for example Jobseeker’s Allowance.

We hope that this has provided you and your children with a useful summary about the costs and  financial support that is available to you when going to university as well as offering you some re-assurance too. If only from a financial point of view!

And remember if you are a self-employed parent, JRW can help clients with proof of earnings and can help you with repayments through the self- assessment system.

To discuss further please just give us a call 01450 372267 or email us directly.

JRW Chartered accountants in Edinburgh, Galashiels, Hawick, Langholm and Peebles.