9 ways you can help your child prepare for their first year at university

The day you send your child off to university is naturally one of mixed emotions for any parent. A sense of pride at their achievement, sadness at letting them go, and a bit of relief that you managed to safely guide them through their childhood years into adulthood.

You may find yourself recalling your own university misadventures, and suddenly wishing you had imparted some much-needed life lessons on your loved one before dropping them off.

But don’t worry! If you’re a parent with a child about to attend university, there is still time to give them some valuable insights that will help your child prepare for their first year away from home.

Discover nine pieces of holistic and financial advice that you can impart to your children this autumn.

1. Make sure they understand the layout of their student loans and maintenance payments

Finances will likely be a key contributor to your child’s stress levels at university.

While course fees are paid directly to the universities and aren’t something your child needs to worry about in the short term, understanding their maintenance loan is vital.

For the 2022/23 academic year, students living away from home are eligible for loans of up to £9,706 (outside of London) and £12,667 (London-based), although the exact figure is adjusted through means-based testing which is assessed against parental income.

This money won’t stretch far and will mostly cover rent and essential bills. Your child should carefully manage their loans so these are always covered before focusing on any other expenses.

2. Teach them the art of household budgeting

You’ll want your children to be able to focus on their studies in peace without constantly worrying about making ends meet. A carefully managed household budget will help them achieve that.

Guiding them through the use of a simple spreadsheet to keep track of their outgoings such as bills, groceries and their luxury budget for nights or other social activities can make a huge difference in their ability to keep the finances in balance, but also in reducing their stress levels.

3. Encourage them to join as many societies as possible

The benefits of attending university aren’t solely educational. It is also a great opportunity for your child to build new friendships or possibly even meet a future romantic partner.

If your child is anxious at all about making new friends, then encouraging them to join as many societies as possible in their first term will give them plenty of new opportunities to socialise with people of similar interests.

In the long term, being a part of a society can potentially help them network with people outside of their course that may develop into useful relationships in their personal or professional futures.

4. Stop them from overspending by making sure they’re aware of student discounts

Making savings can be hugely beneficial especially when working with a limited student budget.

Student discounts are available on a whole range of products and services such as supermarkets, entertainment facilities (bars, restaurants, or cinemas) and travel schemes like the 16–25 Rail card.

It is important that your child takes advantage of them as it may free up valuable funds for other budgetary needs.

Beyond that, you may be able to help reduce the cost of certain items through involving your children in family plans. A family phone plan and shared streaming subscriptions can further reduce costs.

5. Point them in the direction of student support services

You’ve read that university can be a stressful time for students, but luckily most reputable universities offer a range of student services to provide necessary support.

These can include direct financial assistance from student hardship funds, or help reducing course costs, such as by introducing new students to graduates to buy second-hand books and materials.

Most universities will also have student health services on site to help with physical issues such as sexual health checks and mental health issues through advisers.

Charities such as Student Minds offer a wide range of student mental health support and the UK government recently pledged £3 million of investment into student mental health services.

6. Help them pick the right part-time job for their needs

Ultimately, there may come a point where your child will need to tackle an income shortfall outside the assistance they receive from student financing options.

Picking the wrong job could negatively affect their studies.

So, helping your child research local part-time job opportunities to find the right position, not only in terms of wages, but also in terms of flexibility with their university schedule and the type of work environment they will face, can be hugely beneficial.

7. Teach them the pros and cons of credit options

Student overdraft facilities and credit card offers can be a valuable lifeline for students looking to make up budget shortfalls.

Student credit cards can be a useful tool in emergencies, but you should make sure your child is aware of how difficult it can be paying high interest rates and monthly fees on a student budget.

Overdraft facilities, while often interest-free for students, can leave them with large debts after graduation. So, as tempting as they are to use for daily expenses, they should be for emergencies only.

8. Show them the benefits of having essential insurance

A study by Endsleigh Insurance estimates that the average student has more than £2,000 worth of hi-tech gadgets with them at university. Consequently, contents insurance can provide them with a valuable safety net in the event of theft or damage.

Your child might need their own dedicated policy, but also could potentially be added to your own home insurance policy.

Teaching your child about the benefits of insurance can be a valuable money lesson, so chat through their specific needs and collectively decide if they have the right cover in place for their household, transport, and other key areas.

9. Prepare them to live on their own with “adult training”

Finally, teenagers can often miss out on basic life lessons such as laundry, cooking or general household maintenance, as parents tend to do the majority of the housework while they are still living at home.

Arriving at university and suddenly being responsible for their daily upkeep can be a shock to the system for some students.

Slowly putting more responsibility on their shoulders around the house in the build-up to their first term and teaching them any tips or tricks you might have such as with meal planning or recipes, can help them adjust to life on their own much more smoothly.

Get in touch

Sending your child off into the world on their own for the first time can be a stressful period for any parent. Having a clear financial plan can help you remain financially able to assist them if the need should arise.

For more information and to seek advice with planning for your family, contact us at helpme@aspirellp.co.uk or call 0117 9303510.

Please note

This article is no substitute for financial advice and should not be treated as such. To determine the best course of action for your individual circumstances, please contact us.

More blogs

09 Sep 2022

5 mistakes to avoid with your pension contributions this Pension Awareness Day

Read more

16 Aug 2022

Guide: Your complete guide to buy-to-let

Read more

Steve and the team understand me and my aspirations, and they have guided me along the way

Anne Williams

Working with Steve has helped us feel confident about our financial future

Eddie & Debbie

The advice I've received from Ian and Aspire has been invaluable

Miles Watson

I can look forward to a long and happy retirement

Nicki Machin

I feel as though I have an ally, helping me navigate my finances

Raj Bahia

I feel confident in my financial future, thanks to The Aspire Partnership

John Grainger