* Parents are underestimating the true cost of university

* 79% of parents say the tough economic climate is making it harder to support children at university

* Bank of Grandma & Grandpa: 14% of student’s grandparents are helping with university expenses, at an average tune of £1,967 per year

* “Get a job and live at home!” according to parents but students don’t agree

* Tuition fees polarising generations about university choice

The average debt for students starting at a UK university in 2012 is expected to be a whopping £53,000* on graduation, but latest research from the Association of Investment Companies (AIC) suggests that students and their parents might be in for a shock.

The average debt students expect to leave university with is £24,436, with parents’ estimates further away still, at an average of £18,333. So whilst parents expect to dig deep to help their children through university, they may have to dig further still.

Digging Deep

Some 33% of parents expect to use some of their cash savings to help fund university costs, whilst a further 10% say they will use all or most of their cash savings. A further 5% will sell their shares and investments, 4% of parents will take out a bank loan in their own name, and 3% of parents say they will downsize the family home.

Bank of Grandma and Grandpa

Over three quarters (79%) of parents say that the tough economic climate is making it tougher to fund their children through university, although this is down on last year (86%). Even still, it is not surprising to see that 14% of students’ grandparents are stepping in to help to an average tune of nearly £2,000 per year (£1,967) (up from 11% in 2011 and 13% in 2012). 62% of parents say this is directly because of the tough economic climate we are living in.

“Get a job and live at home!”

Interestingly, whilst 13% of parents expect their children to mainly finance their time at university by part time work only 7% of students plan to do so. And it looks like that’s not the only area where there is likely to be polarised views. Whilst nearly a fifth (18%) of students say they are likely live at home whilst at university to save money (although 5% of these would rather not), nearly half (45%) of parents expect their children to live at home.

Tuition fees polarise views

When it comes to tuition fees, there are polarised views between the generations. Whilst some 23% of parents would recommend that their child choose a lower charging university, only 6% of those expecting to go to university agree. Some 89% of those expecting to go to university say they won’t be influenced by the level of tuition fees.

Help on the housing ladder, or help with university fees?

When asked what they would most like financial assistance with, it is clear that as well as being mindful of the cost of university, young people are also acutely aware of the difficulties of getting on the housing ladder. Whilst nearly half (48%) of students would prioritise help with university costs, over a third (34%) said they would rather have help towards a first property. Parents appear much more focussed on helping with university costs (60%), whilst only 23% would prefer to prioritise helping their child with their first property. Some 8% of young people would prefer to have financial help buying a car, and 5% would prefer help towards going travelling.

Sacrifices

Parents are willing to make sacrifices to help fund their children through university. Over a fifth (25%) would forgo annual holidays, a fifth (20%) a new car, and 12% would even put off early retirement. A further 10% would put off moving to a bigger home, and 9% would ditch home improvements.

Annabel Brodie-Smith, Communications Director, Association of Investment Companies (AIC) said: “Families are clearly feeling the strain of spiralling university costs, and in some cases parents have very different views to their children on how they might negate some of these costs. Our research showed the generations had polarised views on key issues with many more parents than students expecting their children to live at home and choose a lower charging university in order to save money.

Mortar Board (PD)

Mortar Board (PD)

As the tough economic climate continues to bite, it’s interesting to see families increasingly turning to the bank of grandma and grandpa. Whilst parents in particular seem to be underestimating the true cost of university, they are clearly prepared to make very real sacrifices to help fund their children through university, with many using their life savings and in some cases even taking out loans in their own name.

Annabel Brodie-Smith continued: “Whilst it’s never going to be easy to build up the huge sums of money that a university education can now entail, a little forward planning could definitely remove a good deal of the burden. Investment companies can be a useful way to tap into the long-term potential of the stock market by investing in a range of companies on your behalf, and they cover a variety of sectors and risk profiles. A small investment can be worthwhile over the long-term, with a £50 per month investment in the average investment company over 18 years to the end of June growing to £24,835 whilst a lump sum investment of £1,000 over the same time frame growing to £4,180.”

Share price total return to 30 June 2013

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For more information on investment companies, and for a saving for children factsheet, visit www.theaic.co.uk

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