How much money should your parents give you for university?

There’s a good chance you’re going to need some help from the Bank of Mum and Dad at university, but how much are they expected to contribute? We explain all here…

Since the current Maintenance Loan is often nowhere near enough to cover living costs in the UK, the government expects parents to pick up the shortfall. Basically, the more they earn, the more they’re expected to contribute.

Depending on where you live at uni and how much your parents earn, they could be expected to contribute over £5,000 a year. According to our 2020 survey, the average student receives £131.31 a month from parents.

Read on to find out exactly how much your parents should be contributing, and how you can go about asking them for it…

Should your parents give you money for university?

The current Student Finance system uses your parents’ income to determine how much money you get as a Maintenance Loan to cover your living costs – this means it’s means-tested.

Whether this is fair or not is debatable. For starters, the system doesn’t really take into account that some parents will also be supporting other children at university, which will strain their income.

Some parents will also have different attitudes to this than others. Some might think that because you’re 18 (and they’re technically no longer legally responsible for you), that it’s up to you to fund yourself. Other parents might be more than willing to dish out the cash.

On the other hand, it’s important to recognise that many students have parents on lower incomes who simply aren’t in a position to support them financially, so the government has created a system that tries to ensure these students can still access higher education.

However, after scrapping Maintenance Grants, students with bigger loans will now also graduate with more debt than others – again, something which isn’t fair.

Basically, even if you think your parents can’t afford to give you all the money you need, or they’re not willing to, the current Student Finance system works on the presumption that they’re going to help you out financially. So, unless that changes, it’s a conversation you’re probably going to need to have (these tips will help).

How much money should parents give students?

Household income Maintenance Loan Expected parental contribution
£25,000 or less £9,488 £0
£30,000 £8,809 £679
£35,000 £8,130 £1,358
£40,000 £7,450 £2,038
£45,000 £6,771 £2,717
£50,000 £6,092 £3,396
£55,000 £5,412 £4,076
£60,000 £4,733 £4,755
£62,286 or more £4,422 £5,066

Note: This table only applies to students from England who start university in September 2021, who are living away from home but outside of London. If this isn’t you, check out the calculator below.

In reality, the amount of money your parents give you depends on lots of factors, like your individual financial circumstances and their generosity. But, the government works out how much you’ll get for your Maintenance Loan based on your household income – assuming your parents will cover the shortfall.

All values in the above table add up to £9,488 as this is the maximum Maintenance Loan, offered to students from low-income households. Since these students receive £9,488 a year, the assumption is that parents with higher incomes can make up the rest to ensure all students get around the same amount.

And, for students who started uni between 2018–2020, we’ve made a calculator showing what your parents are ‘expected’ to contribute each year.

Disclaimer: Please note that these are suggested parental contributions that should be used as a guide only. 

The figures in the table and calculator are based on the fact that the more your parents earn, the smaller your Maintenance Loan will be – and the larger the shortfall your parents will have to cover. The calculations are made by the government based on the assumption that parents who earn below £25,000 won’t be contributing.