Five money lessons to teach your teen before they start university

According to government data, those who started university last autumn are likely to end up with average student loan debts of £45,800

Published: August 11, 2022 at 1:41 pm

Thousands of school leavers next week will discover whether they’ve got the right A level grades to get into university and will then need to start swotting up on their finances.

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According to government data, those who started university last autumn are likely to end up with average student loan debts of £45,800 by the time they complete their degrees. This figure could potentially be much higher for those taking four or five-year degrees such as languages or medicine.

Here, we look at five money lessons parents and guardians should run through with their teens this summer, to help them manage their finances whilst they are studying.

1. Work out a budget

Encourage your teen to sit down and make a budget before they start university. This can help reduce the chances of their spending spiralling out of control as they’ll know exactly how much they’ll have to spend on things like their accommodation, books and study materials, and socialising. UCAS has a useful Budget calculator provided by consumer association Which? that provides a monthly breakdown of how much you’ll roughly need to live on at the university you’re going to.

2. Choose the right student bank account

Most student bank accounts come with tempting perks, but it’s worth reminding your teen that the most important element of any student account is likely to be the interest-free overdraft.

"There can be a fine line between choosing the perfect student account for someone's circumstances and accidentally picking a poor account if it's not thought through," said Rachel Springall, finance expert at moneyfacts.co.uk.

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"As with any bank account, the best deal entirely depends on how someone uses the account. While students could be tempted by an account with perks, it may not end up being the most cost-effective choice over the next few years if they don't make use of them."

3. Beware relying on credit cards to cover costs

Several lenders offer student credit cards designed to help students cover unexpected expenses while they are away at university.

However, it’s worth telling your teen to try to avoid applying for one, unless they’re confident they’ll be able to pay off what you owe each month. If they don’t, they may face steep interest charges. They should also remember too that they could be hit with hefty fees and charges if they miss any payments or exceed their credit limit.

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4. Sort out student loans

You don’t need a confirmed university place to apply for a student loan, so hopefully your teen has already applied for any student loans they are likely to need. If not, there’s no need to panic, as they can still apply for funding up to nine months after the first day of the academic year for their course. Applications can be made online for tuition fee loans and maintenance loans via the Student Finance England website for students from England, the Student Awards Agency Scotland website for students from Scotland, Student Finance Wales for students from Wales, or Student Finance Northern Ireland for students from Northern Ireland.

Chris Larmer, executive operations director at the Student Loans Company, said: “New students were advised to apply before 20 May but if they missed this deadline they should still apply as soon as possible. Even if they are waiting for those all-important exam results, it is possible to submit an application without a confirmed place at university or college – and no need to wait for clearing either.”

Student loan interest rates will now be capped at 6.3% from September 2022. The government intervened in June to protect borrowers in response to the rise in the Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation rate due to global economic pressures which meant student loan borrowers faced a 12% interest rate in September.

5. Encourage them to get a part-time job

Taking on a part time job to bring in a bit of extra cash could make a real difference to the amount of debt your student child ends up with when they leave university.

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It’s a good idea for them to start looking for roles as soon as possible, ideally before term begins, as there’s likely to be plenty of competition for any part-time jobs once the academic year begins. Websites where students can search for and apply for roles include E4S and StudentJob UK.

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