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Lockdown puts pressure on student finances

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Two-thirds (63%) of students will rely on their parents to help them with bills whilst living at home and paying for university accommodation.

The third national lockdown will see the majority of university students stay at home rather than return to their campuses and courses in person. But staying with their families beyond the Christmas break is set to put additional pressure on student finances as rent and bills on university accommodation still need to be paid.

Students anticipate they will need an average of £570 from their parents to help make ends meet, according to research from Compare the Market. The majority (64%) of those asking for financial assistance do not expect to pay their parents back.

The price comparison site’s latest Household Financial Confidence Tracker also found that 27% of families with children living at home are struggling to make ends meet due to the pandemic. Almost a third (32%) of families with children living at home have dipped into savings to cope with day-to-day budgeting.

Ursula Gibbs, director at Compare the Market, said: “The closure of most university campuses and changes to courses that are being taught almost exclusively online is placing significant stress on students, not only with regards to their education, but also their finances. Since students have limited options and are unable to take up part-time jobs, our research shows that most students need the bank of mum and dad to tide them over financially during this period, despite parents feeling the squeeze after this difficult year.

“For parents wanting to look after loved ones while balancing their own household bills, this could have a significant impact. Thankfully, the vaccine roll-out gives hope that life can return to normal sooner rather than later, and students will be able to return to normal academic life in the not too distant future.”

Can students get a rent refund?

Thousands of students have been told not to return to university campuses, leaving them with accommodation they are paying for but can’t use.

Unfortunately, students don’t have any more rights to a rent reduction or payment freeze than any other tenant.

However, some universities have confirmed they will provide rent refunds or discounts to students in halls or university-owned accommodation.

A survey by MoneySavingExpert.com found that a small number of universities, including the University of Bristol, the University of Cumbria, and Manchester Metropolitan University, are offering some kind of rent refund or discount.

Several other institutions said their rent policies were under review – so it’s worth asking.