How Much Should Parents Pay Towards their Child's Uni Fund?

author image-cai
By Cai Bradley
Updated on Tuesday 13 August 2019

Parent dropping off daughter to university

The cost of tuition in the UK is up to £9,250 for students, depending on where they’re from and where they study, but what about the cost of day-to-day life?

Yes, maintenance loans and bursaries are available, but they can only cover so much, which means that the government expects parents to contribute a surprising amount towards their children’s living costs at university.

And with rent, utility bills, food shopping, leisure, hobbies and a load of other expenses to pay for, it’s no secret that some students struggle to get by and that some parents are at-odds with what to contribute.

How much money should parents give university students? How much does the government expect them to fork out? Keep reading to find out.

Skip to: parents’ contribution calculator: how much parents should contribute if they earn £20,000, £30,000, £40,000, and so on.

Maintenance loans and bursaries

Maintenance loans for students are partly means-tested (dependant on the student’s parents’ income) and those who are eligible will receive a lump sum each term to cover some of their everyday finances at university.

But as the cost of student rent continues to soar, some find that it doesn’t go a long way once they’ve paid for their accommodation and bills – whether it’s a shared house or student halls.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Student Loans

So, how are students supposed to pay for food, leisure, every-day supplies and the odd night out if their loan just about covers their rent?

There are bursaries, scholarships and other hardship funds available, but not all students are entitled to these and because they are lump-sums, like maintenance loans, it’s difficult to make them last the term without super-careful budgeting.

“Get a job!” some will say. But those who have experienced the situation understand that it can be pretty difficult and stressful to hold down a part-time job at uni – especially during the final year when work is picking up and you’re spending the majority of your time doing a dissertation, coursework and exam-prepping.

Who else is there to turn to but your parents?

Parents’ contribution to university students

University is now a diverse place for people of all backgrounds thanks to tuition and maintenance loans covering a lot of the costs, but it also means that some parents find it difficult to help their children out financially as much as others.

Some students’ parents who earn higher wages will be able to provide their children with an extra bit of cash every week or month comfortably, but it’s not as easy for other parents who may be struggling to cover their own bills.

Institutes are trying to make it as fair across the board as possible by implementing a system where the less your parents earn, the more maintenance loan you’re entitled to.

But whether it’s to cover a week’s food shopping, an event ticket, or a gym membership, it’s likely that all parents will need to help their children out financially at some point during their three or more years at university.

Read more: How to Budget at Uni – A Guide for Students

So, how much does the government expect parents to contribute towards their children’s living costs?

Parental contribution to student finance calculator

Using Save The Student’s online calculator, we can provide you with a rough estimate of how much the government expects a parents to contribute towards their child’s living cost at university if they start in 2019, in relation to their household income and where the student attends university.


Parents’ income

Parents’ expected annual contribution to living costs

Away from home (outside London)



Away from home (outside London)



Away from home (outside London)



Away from home (outside London)



Away from home (outside London)



Away from home (in London)



At home



For example, if your household income is £40,000 and your child lives away from home (outside London), the government expects you, as a parent, to cover £1,926 of your child’s living cost in a year.

That figure is likely to be slightly more if the student lives in London, and slightly less if they live at home.

Read more: 10 Tips for Student Budgeting at University

The amount that the government expects parents to cover depends on your income, but it also depends on where the student lives – at home, away from home in London, or away from home outside London.

Compare UK Quotes’ advice to parents of students

Although we can give you a rough estimate as to how much the government expects parents to contribute to their child’s living costs at university, the parental contribution to Student Finance depends largely on the family’s individual situation.

Some might want to help their children out, but might not have the funds to do so if they have other debts to pay off themselves, for example.

How much you give your child while they’re at university depends on your situation, what you deem fair, and of course, what you can afford.

There’s no right or wrong amount that you should give.

Remember, if you’re a student or your child is about to go to university, budgeting is hugely important.

Set up a budgeting plan with your child (or do so yourself if you’re a student) before the first term begins, and you’re more than likely to stay on track financially.

You should also take a quick look at our top tips to save money at uni, because all the little savings will add up and make student life a lot more comfortable!

Related guides:

Teaching Your Teenager About Finances

How to Budget at Uni – A Guide for Students

How to Budget Part I: Budgeting on a low income

10 Tips for Student Budgeting at University

money management advice student

Latest News