What Price Education?

Financial planning for university life.

In just over a week I’ll be driving my daughter the 225 miles to her university, where, if all goes to plan, she’ll be living and studying for the next nearly three years.

This process began almost a year ago when Nee first began looking into which universities offered courses in her chosen field. She received brochures and details of courses, then made her list of five favourite universities and sent her applications.


The next stage was to make some visits to universities on their Open Days. We decided to visit only one because Nee was adamant that this was the one she would go to. The Open Day was scheduled for a Saturday which meant I didn’t have to book a day off work, and was also at a university only a couple of hours from our home.

So that was all straightforward; we had a tour of the campus and accommodation, a talk from the head of faculty and another one from the lecturer and we were both very happy. Cost: fuel & carparking £49.

The next stage was to wait for the selected universities to call Nee in for “questioning”. She was lucky; all five invited her for interview. Each one stipulated its own requirements which were generally a portfolio of existing work and an essay on a given subject.

As our family doesn’t have much of an income, we decided that we would attend interviews at only Nee’s top two choices. The third choice wanted everything submitted on-line so that was duly delivered costing nothing.

So I booked two days off work and accompanied Nee on her two interview days. It’s not obligatory of course for parents to attend, but I think it would be pretty heartless to send your 17-year-old off on a long train journey into a scary new environment to have an interview which will hopefully secure her future, without any support. Interview #1 Cost: fuel & carparking £49 loss of earnings £40. Interview #2 Cost: fuel & carparking £28 train £190 loss of earnings £40.

The interviews all went well and offers duly came in from all three universities. Nee changed her mind slightly and switched her no.1 and no.2 unis so her top choice was now the furthest from our home. Now came the time to put some hours into studying and making sure the necessary grades were achieved.

Results day came and the grades were good and the numbers added up and immediately (via the wonders of the web) came the firm offer of the place on the course and a room in the Halls of Residence – the latter requiring the swift payment of a deposit to secure it. Cost: deposit for room £250 (some universities require up to £1,000).

Now came the collecting of the “stuff”. This includes: stuff for the room – bed linen, pillows, duvet, towels, bath mat, hairdryer, clock, desk lamp, full-length mirror, coat hangers, under-bed storage boxes, rug, waste bin, stuff for the kitchen – rice cooker, wok, saucepans, bowls, plates, cutlery. mugs, glasses, chopping board, knives, baking trays, muffin tin, various utensils, can opener, corkscrew, oven gloves, tea towels, dish mop, detergent, grater, colander, laundry stuff  – clothes horse/airer, detergent, hamper/laundry basket.

I know what you’re saying…”surely not all those things are necessary”, and yes, she could probably do without some, and some have been gifts for her 18th. birthday, and a lot is available at charity shops and carboot sales, and lots will come out of the cupboards here at home, so I’ve taken all that into account when I’ve calculated the Cost: stuff £100 -£300.

Nee has bought a load of stationery items which I’m not counting as they will come from her grant, but another outlay today has been an injection of cash into her newly opened student account in order to activate her overdraft facility. This will keep her afloat until Student Finance get their act together to pay her the student loan/grant that she has applied for. Cost: bank transfer £300.

I’m also anticipating forking out for a starter pack of food and toiletries to keep her going until she has found the whereabouts of all the local shops and has found time to visit them amongst the hectic schedule of Freshers Week. Cost: starter pack £50.

Lion in Zion – a must for any student room

Finally, there’ll be the 225 mile drive up North and home again to take Nee and all the above to her flat. Cost: fuel £85.

I make that a total of £1,181 (and probably more). The bank transfer and accommodation deposit should come back to me, but I’m not going to hold my breath!

As for Nee, she will come away from university in 2015 with an Honours Degree in Photojournalism and a debt of around £40,000.

Clever/poor girl.


2 thoughts on “What Price Education?

  1. pinkybinks September 8, 2012 / 2:04 pm

    Good luck with your course Nee.

  2. Madoqua September 9, 2012 / 6:29 am

    I have been through this a few times and it seems that every time you turn around there is something else to pay for 😦
    But I have been rewarded over and over by the way my children have worked so hard when they got to study their selected degrees, and they have really valued their opportunities.
    Looking back now, it was worth every cent! I hope you will find this too.

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