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Standard Life reveals university debt headache for parents

Standard Life has revealed new research that shows more than half of parents underestimate the total debt their child could leave university with.


Standard Life has revealed that more than half of parents potentially underestimate the maximum amount of debt their child could leave university with.

When asked to take into account the increase in tuition fees to a maximum of £9,000 per year from 2012, and any other debts accumulated from living expenses, student loans, bank loans etc. 58 per cent of parents think the maximum debt their children could leave with is £40,000 or under, including many who think this would be a lot less. This total is well under the maximum figure of £54,000 calculated by the long-term savings and investment company Standard Life.

Despite this, a fifth (21 per cent) of parents have started to make regular savings to help ease the costs of their children’s university education, and nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of parents are putting money aside on special occasions (e.g. birthdays or one-off windfalls).

Julie Hutchison, head of technical insight at Standard Life, said: “The findings of our research are positive as they show that parents have identified the need to save for their children’s time at university. Unfortunately their expectations of what that cost could be and therefore the target amount they want to save might actually be too low.”

Parents who have longer to save are taking full advantage, as more than half of parents (55 per cent) with children aged 0 to 9 are putting money aside for their child’s university costs. Conversely seven out of ten (70 per cent) parents with children aged 14 to 17 aren’t doing the same.

Julie continued: “Attending University is of course a worthwhile pursuit but can be expensive with the costs of tuition fees, living costs and course material all adding up over the years. Even though a student loan can be taken to cover all these outgoings, parents can also seriously help reduce these costs.”

More than half (53 per cent) of parents who save on a regular basis are saving less than £50 a month towards their child’s university costs, 27% are saving £50 - £100, 7 per cent are saving £101 - £200 and 4 per cent of parents are saving more than £200.

Out of the 56 per cent of parents who are not saving for their children’s university costs, almost two-thirds (63 per cent) say they can’t afford to at the moment, with one in ten (10 per cent) having just not considered it.

The research also looked at the saving attitudes of grandparents of children under 18, with one in ten (9 per cent) saving for their grandchildren’s university education on a regular basis, 16 per cent on occasions and 2 per cent as a one-off lump sum. Of those not saving, a quarter (24 per cent) have just not considered it, with 15 per cent thinking the child’s parents are saving up sufficient funds.

Regionally parents in the Midlands are saving the most with 52 per cent putting money aside for their children’s university costs. It’s followed by London (48 per cent), Scotland (44 per cent), Southern England and East of England (both 42 per cent) with the North of England saving the least (39 per cent).

- Ends -

About Standard Life:
Standard Life is a leading long term savings and investments company headquartered in Edinburgh and operating internationally. Established in 1825, Standard Life provides life assurance, annuities, life insurance, savings products such as stock and shares ISAs, investment bonds, tax efficiencies, pension products, financial planning and investment management to around 6 million customers worldwide.

For further information, please contact:
Matthew Pittam
Standard Life plc
Ground Floor
Caledonian Exchange
19a Canning Street
0131 245 4961


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