5 min read

Student Finance | Help your child with budgeting for university

Student Finance | Help your child with budgeting for university

by Judith Charlton

Part of the university experience for your child is learning how to live independently, pay their bills, and manage their money.

So, how can you support your child to become money-savvy, particularly during this cost of living crisis? If they need financial support, what's available, and if you're in a position to help, how much should you contribute? Read on to find out.


  1. Can my child get financial support to study at university?
  2. What funding is available?
  3. What scholarships are available?
  4. What are bursaries?
  5. What other sources of funding are available?
  6. How much money will my child need at university?
  7. How can I help my child?
  8. What can my child do to cover any shortfall? 
  9. How can I help my child to budget?
  10. Is Newcastle University helping students during this cost of living crisis?

Can my child get financial support to study at university?

First, it’s important to understand that eligible UK undergraduate students can apply for loans to help fund the cost of their studies and living expenses.

In England, these loans are available through Student Finance England, with a different application process for students from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Applications for Student Finance can take six weeks to process, so make sure your child gets in touch with their funding body and applies in good time for the start of their university adventure.


What funding is available?

Currently, most UK undergraduate students apply for two different types of loans:

  • Tuition Fee Loan, which covers tuition fees and is paid up-front, direct to the university
  • Maintenance Loan, which helps pay living costs, such as accommodation, food, travel and any course-related costs not covered by the tuition fee. It is paid directly into the student’s bank account.

Both loans have to be repaid after the student has finished or left their course, and their income is over a certain amount.

Unlike the Tuition Fee Loan, the Maintenance Loan is means-tested, so the level of funding a student receives will depend on their parent’s income, as well as where they plan to live and study.

If there’s a shortfall between the amount of Maintenance Loan a student receives and their living costs, they will have to cover this themselves. Ways to do this could include using savings, applying for scholarships or bursaries, part-time work, or the bank of mum and dad.

From 2025, student finance will be changing with the introduction of the Lifelong Loan Entitlement (LLE).


What scholarships are available?

Scholarships are usually awarded to students who are outstanding in their subjects. Fully-funded scholarships cover the full cost of university tuition fees and may even include a living allowance. Partial scholarships can help reduce the tuition fee or provide a contribution to living costs.

Scholarships can be awarded by universities, but are also available from commercial and charitable organisations.

Newcastle University invests millions of pounds in financial support for students who want to study with us. Our generous scholarships for new, eligible undergraduate students include subject and sport scholarships and our Opportunity Scholarship for students whose household income is £35,000 or less.

If your child is eligible, they may be automatically considered for some scholarships. For other schemes, they will have to apply. Scholarships are very competitive, and the application process can take a while. so encourage them to start early in their search for possible schemes.


What are bursaries?

Bursaries are usually awarded to students based on their personal circumstances, for example, if they come from a low-income family.  They are usually one-off payments to help with specific costs and can be awarded by universities, companies, charities, trusts and organisations involved in education.

Scholarships and bursaries - unlike student loans - don't have to be paid back.


What other sources of funding are available?

Students who are on a low income can apply for additional financial support, including Universal Credit and university hardship funds. They could also be eligible for funding from charitable trusts.

At Newcastle, if your child is joining us via our PARTNERS-supported entry route they could get funding support once they begin their studies. Our PARTNERS team will get in touch with them during the application process if they are eligible.


How much money will my child need at university?

Unfortunately, there’s no straightforward answer to this as it can depend on where in the UK your child is studying and their lifestyle at university,

Being realistic now about how much they will need to live on will pay off when they get to university, so talk to them about the basic costs they will need to cover, such as:

  • rent
  • utilities such as gas, electricity and water 
  • food and household essentials
  • transport at university and when they come home
  • leisure activities and socialising
  • mobile phone
  • textbooks and course materials
  • fieldwork costs if these are relevant to their degree
  • personal possessions insurance 

Encourage them to research factors that will help their student budget go further - for example, at Newcastle, our undergraduate accommodation fees include heating, electricity and water charges, and we provide free personal possessions insurance and WiFi.

Our city is also ranked 9th in the UK for affordability (QS Best Student Cities 2023), so clever budgeting can help their money go a long way.


How can I help my child?

Once your child knows roughly how much they'll be spending, you'll be able to estimate any cash shortfall. Now, it’s a question of how to plug that financial gap.

If you’re in a position to help them financially, that’s fantastic, but be clear from the outset on how much of a parental contribution you can make to ease their cash flow – it could avoid problems later on. 


What can my child do to cover any shortfall? 

Many students take on part-time or vacation jobs to make a little extra cash.

At Newcastle, our Careers Service offers lots of help and advice on finding part-time jobs, while a Jobs on Campus scheme recruits a pool of students each year to undertake a range of short-term jobs across the University. 

Part-time work is great for making some extra money, and it's also a way for your child to gain work experience, develop valuable skills and meet new people. It looks good on their CV, too, demonstrating to prospective employers that they’re organised, focused, willing to work and determined to succeed.


How can I help my child to budget?

Talk to them about some of the steps they can take to budget.

Setting a weekly spending allowance, can keep their cash under control. Thinking carefully about what they spend their money on, planning ahead for any big expenses and checking their bank account regularly, can also help them avoid any nasty surprises.

Since one of their biggest outgoings is likely to be on food, it’s also worth teaching them to cook – home-cooked meals and packed lunches aren’t just healthier for them, they’re also easier on the bank balance.

Other top budgeting tips include signing up for a student bank account with a competitive interest-free overdraft and making the most of student discounts, particularly on travel costs.


Is Newcastle University helping students during this cost of living crisis?

Yes. We've increased our financial and wellbeing support to £1.7 million. This includes a range of initiatives including:

  • Student Finance Support Fund – for help meeting essential day-to-day living costs
  • participation bursaries - to help cover the costs of joining societies
  • additional jobs through our Jobs On Campus scheme
  • Make it Happen fund – to help with the cost of attending interviews, work experience or even exploring a business venture
  • dedicated phone line - so students can access support about urgent financial matters
  • Student Pantry – providing free dry and tinned foods, stationery and clothing
  • subsidised campus laundry facilities
  • £1 hot meals in our campus cafes

Our Student Finance Advisers can offer professional, impartial advice about student funding and finance-related matters, supporting your child to manage their money. They can also help them explore funding schemes they may be eligible for.

And we've developed an online money management course, Money Matters, helping our students master the basics of income and expenditure, as well as budgeting and how to stay safe from fraud.

More information about our Student Financial Support is available on our website, and you can find out more about how we're helping our students tackle the cost of living crisis through our dedicated hub.

Although we use the terms parent/child in this blog for simplicity, it is intended for anyone fulfilling a parenting role.