Getting Ready for University: A Parent’s Guide

Posted: 15th June 2021

As we come to the end of the Spring Term, the prospect of university for those of you with sons and daughters in Year 13, is suddenly becoming a reality.

It’s an emotional journey for both parents and students, but being prepared can alleviate some of stress that comes as this new chapter unfolds. A recent workshop I ran on student finance quickly became a wider discussion on many of the issues parents and students face. To help, I’ve pulled together a handy checklist of hints and tips for parents.

Accommodation

  1. Once you have confirmed offers, the university should write to your son/daughter with information on how to apply or head to the relevant university website to find out. Whilst your son/daughter is focusing on revision, it might be helpful for you to focus on supporting their university application
  2. Get organised early. Some universities work on a first come, first served basis for accommodation and some don’t guarantee accommodation to all first-year students.

Finance

  1. Once your son/daughter has confirmed their first and second choice university, they need to apply for their student loan. There are several different types – fees, means tested maintenance and disability, all requiring separate applications
  2. Students need to apply for the loan and will need to provide information about their parents’ income for the student loan company to assess the application. Be prepared, as parents will need to supply financial information
  3. Most universities also offer bursaries and scholarships. Enquire at your son/daughter’s chosen university for more information
  4. There is a government student finance calculator which is handy for working out the likely loan value your son/daughter will receive
  5. The application must be made by the student. Tuition fees are paid directly from the student loan company to the university once your child has registered with the university in September
  6. If you are self-financing, please refer to the relevant university website regarding tuition fees for payment dates and bank details; they normally accept payment either in full or by instalments
  7. For the loan to be paid, your son/daughter must have a student bank account. You need to shop around as there are good deals out there for them including free rail cards etc. Money Saving Expert provides some good tips on which ones to choose
  8. Student loans will only be paid to your son/daughter, so any ideas that you might use this for their rent or regular maintenance, will require them handing over the loan to you! If there is an issue with payment, the Student Loan Company will only liaise with your son or daughter, not parents. From previous experience, I would recommend that your son/daughter gives permission for you to have access to their account details too
  9. The maintenance loans are then paid in three instalments throughout the academic year at the start of each term. Be aware – lump sums of cash can be burnt through very quickly by students living away from home for the first time!
  10. Working through a realistic budget with your son/daughter may be helpful to give them an idea of how to budget. The Which website provides a great guide by university as to the monthly living costs for different areas of the country.
  11. Students living in England who go on to Higher Education can apply for the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA), if they have at least one of the following: a disability, long-term health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia. The level of support awarded depends on each student’s individual needs, not on income. The DSA can be used to pay for a range of issues such as specialist equipment, laptop, computer software, the use of non-medical helpers, such as a note-taker or reader or help with travel expenses. For further information see the following link: https://www.gov.uk/disabled-students-allowances-dsas/overview

Results Day

  1. Try not to book your summer holiday over Results Days. It is a lot easier to be in the country with direct access to teaching staff and resources should you need them
  2. A confirmation email is sent from UCAS to your child at 8.00am on results day to confirm whether they are in to their first or second choice university or will need to go through clearing. No results will be provided by UCAS; you will need to go to your school to receive these
  3. Hopefully your child gets the results they need to secure their place, which they need to confirm through Track
  4. If the grades weren’t quite as anticipated, you will need to look at Clearing. This is available online from July through UCAS. On the day, make sure you keep checking as places are constantly updated
  5. If your child has done better than expected in their results, they can hold onto their first choice for up to 5 days (includes the weekend) whilst looking through availability for alternative courses. You child needs to register with Adjustment through Track. Popular courses will fill up quickly, so speed is of the essence.

Once everything has been confirmed, you can finally start looking at getting organised to send your 18-year-old off on their new adventure at university. The pilgrimage to IKEA is a must as is the Sainsbury’s meal ticket card you can top up from a distance.  This is such an exciting time for students to go and flee the nest, but don’t worry, they’ll soon be back for reading week with a bag of dirty washing and raiding the fridge as if they’d never been away.

Best of luck!

Kate Sharp

Head of Examinations & UCAS Co-ordinator

“Thank you for your personalised introduction to applying for the various finance options.  It has got us started on the process.  Your tips about possible pitfalls were especially useful.” Surbiton High School Parent

Categories: Sixth Form