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Parents sacrificing holidays and cars to cover university costs

Written by: Emma Lunn
Parents are cutting back on luxury spending – and even taking on second jobs – to fund their children's university living costs, according to Which?

In a survey of parents of current and prospective students, a quarter (26 per cent) told Which? they have had to or intend to cut back on luxury spending – such as holidays, new cars or home improvements – to support their child at university.

A smaller number – 6 per cent – of parents also said they have or will have to take on a second job to help cover the cost.

Which? heard from 846 parents of current and prospective undergraduate students about how their child’s university education is being funded, with just over eight in 10 (84 per cent) parents of current students saying they are financially supporting their child at university.

Half (49 per cent) of those said the overall cost of supporting a child at university was more than they expected, with parents contributing an average of £360 a month.

Two-thirds of parents (66 per cent) surveyed told Which? they use or will use their monthly income to cover the cost, while a quarter (27 per cent) said the funds come or will come from their savings.

A third (34 per cent) said they had or will cut down on day-to-day spending, with another one in three (32 per cent) telling Which? they will encourage their child to get a job or save in other ways.

What are students spending the money on?

Expenses that parents of current students were contributing towards included living costs, such as accommodation, bills and food (56 per cent), study materials (37 per cent), outings and hobbies (28 per cent) and tuition fees (10 per cent).

However, one in five parents of current undergraduates say that they are supporting their child financially, but did not know specifically how the money was being spent.

In a separate survey of students, Which? found that half received additional money from their parents, with around four in 10 (44 per cent) saying they have spent more money on accommodation than they expected to, and the same proportion (43 per cent) saying 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.”

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