Dear Jo Johnson: Minister, it’s time to tell parents the truth about what you...

edited 26 September 2016 at 7:58AM in Martin's Blogs & Appearances & MoneySavingExpert in the News
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MSE_EeshaMSE_Eesha MSE Staff
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This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's blog. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.
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  • Ed-1Ed-1 Forumite
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    MSE_Eesha wrote: »
    This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's blog. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.

    Here here - the minimum that should happen is that parents (who have to correspond with SLC anyway as a student's sponsor) should receive a letter detailing their expected parental contribution based on the income assessment.

    Longer term we should be working towards a system that abolishes means testing all together and therefore treats students as independent at 18. The only rationale for Labour setting the age 25 cut-off to be treated as independent is so the government could afford maintenance grants. Now its all maintenance loans, we should have a loan system that recoups enough in repayments to allow both the means testing of student support based on parental income to be abolished and removal of ELQ restrictions on further loan support.
  • The student loan system appears to be a graduate tax, in all but name.
  • Paul_HerringPaul_Herring Forumite
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    No questions about how much those of us without children are paying towards university costs?

    Especially since a not insubstantial number of people incurring loans won't actually be paying them off. At least according to a few articles on here by Martin.
    Conjugating the verb 'to be":
    -o I am humble -o You are attention seeking -o She is Nadine Dorries
  • VT82VT82 Forumite
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    Strongly agree with your letter Martin, and Ed-1's follow up points. Hope you make quick progress with it.
  • AcquinasAcquinas Forumite
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    It's a good point Martin. My wife and I are both on middle incomes. We have one child who has just completed an undergraduate degree and about to commence a masters and another who is looing to start uni in 2017. We are hoping the eldest doesn't want to do a PhD as that would precipitate the nightmare scenario of both at uni at the same time.

    Both kids are sanguine about the debt. It's just a fact of life and they regard the repayment as being a legitimate contribution toward the preparation for a graduate-entry career. But the maintenance loan barely covers the costs of the rent of a room in a hall of residence. We pay for everything else: food, transport, books, stationery and maybe just a bit to enable him to have a life that doesn't mean that grinding poverty distracts him entirely from his studies. We get no change out of about £6k a year (paid out of our taxed income). This was a factor in us deciding to downsize our house. Since the youngest is looking at a 4-year Engineering Masters, it is definitely the major factor in me deciding to defer my retirement.

    And before I get jumped on by anyone who suggests that my kids should work part-time in order to finance things, well, the uni that my eldest goes to bans undergraduate part-time working.

    Am I complaining? Not really. My wife and I have worked hard to give our kids the best start that we could and this is just an aspect of that. But I really don't know how any family on lesser salaries than us, but who don't qualify for the measly means-tested grants, could handle this at all.

    So, yes, let's have some realism and transparency.
  • FitzmichaelFitzmichael Forumite
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    I know it may be a bit beyond Martin's normal financial advice but, since he's doubtless got access to lots of knowledgeable help, and no posters nor any element of the Media appear to think it's worth asking (maybe they're not even aware of it) why several other EU countries, some less wealthy than UK/England, can provide free university access, I'm prepared to hope he can provide or prompt an answer.
    I passed my A-levels in 1960 but, apart from the tiny number who won a scholarship, only those with parents who could afford to pay their fees and maintenance costs, could go to uni. My French and Spanish were reasonably fluent and I got a summer job as a courier (guide) on cultural coach tours for mostly middle-class/aged Anglos through France and Spain (well-paid, all-found, no tax). I discovered that everyone with the Bac got to uni free. Back here, someone told me that in the French consulate in Manchester there was an Alliance française and a Cultural Attache who might be able to certify that my O and A-levels were the equivalent of the Bac, and, if he considered my French fluent enough, might get me into a uni. So I spent the following academic year at Grenoble Uni (more skiing opportunities than I could profit from) and got a PT job teaching English to electrical/engineers working at a huge new plant. I couldn't enrol on a whole degree course but could choose any elements that I was interested in and was judged able to cope with, joining a group of Spanish students on a Diploma course including 2-way Spanish-French translation and interpreting. When full grants arrived here in 1962, I was ahead of the game, thanks to the French taxpayers.
  • edited 30 September 2016 at 5:38PM
    missbiggles1missbiggles1
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    edited 30 September 2016 at 5:38PM
    Ed-1 wrote: »
    Here here - the minimum that should happen is that parents (who have to correspond with SLC anyway as a student's sponsor) should receive a letter detailing their expected parental contribution based on the income assessment.

    Longer term we should be working towards a system that abolishes means testing all together and therefore treats students as independent at 18. The only rationale for Labour setting the age 25 cut-off to be treated as independent is so the government could afford maintenance grants. Now its all maintenance loans, we should have a loan system that recoups enough in repayments to allow both the means testing of student support based on parental income to be abolished and removal of ELQ restrictions on further loan support.

    The threshold for a student to be considered independent at 25 has been in effect since before I went to university in the mid 70s, as have the other criteria for achieving independence like having supported yourself for 3 years.
  • missbiggles1missbiggles1
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    I know it may be a bit beyond Martin's normal financial advice but, since he's doubtless got access to lots of knowledgeable help, and no posters nor any element of the Media appear to think it's worth asking (maybe they're not even aware of it) why several other EU countries, some less wealthy than UK/England, can provide free university access, I'm prepared to hope he can provide or prompt an answer.
    I passed my A-levels in 1960 but, apart from the tiny number who won a scholarship, only those with parents who could afford to pay their fees and maintenance costs, could go to uni.
    My French and Spanish were reasonably fluent and I got a summer job as a courier (guide) on cultural coach tours for mostly middle-class/aged Anglos through France and Spain (well-paid, all-found, no tax). I discovered that everyone with the Bac got to uni free. Back here, someone told me that in the French consulate in Manchester there was an Alliance française and a Cultural Attache who might be able to certify that my O and A-levels were the equivalent of the Bac, and, if he considered my French fluent enough, might get me into a uni. So I spent the following academic year at Grenoble Uni (more skiing opportunities than I could profit from) and got a PT job teaching English to electrical/engineers working at a huge new plant. I couldn't enrol on a whole degree course but could choose any elements that I was interested in and was judged able to cope with, joining a group of Spanish students on a Diploma course including 2-way Spanish-French translation and interpreting. When full grants arrived here in 1962, I was ahead of the game, thanks to the French taxpayers.

    My husband went to university in 1959 and was funded by a maintenance grant with fees paid, although I don't think these became mandatory until a couple of years later. He was from a working class family, as were most of his friends from grammar school. Then as now, the maintenance grant was means tested on parental income.
  • Ed-1Ed-1 Forumite
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    The threshold for a student to be considered independent at 25 has been in effect since before I went to university in the mid 70s, as have the other criteria for achieving independence like having supported yourself for 3 years.

    Time for a reform of it then?
  • FitzmichaelFitzmichael Forumite
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    Why not discover what MSE users think in your usual way, by giving them questions to vote on?
    When do they think adult rights should be awarded -16/18, and also adult responsibilities imposed?
    Till what age should parents be legally bound to provide the necessities of life for their offspring? Ultimately, of course, it should depend on the opinion of voters, Some posters, especially without children, think they should not be expected to pay taxes for free post-school education. On this point, some say, quite reasonably, that if you choose to have children, you should not expect others to pay for them as adults, but it seems unlikely that they mean welfare benefits etc should be available only to those whose parents have insufficient income to support them partially or wholly.
    Grants, loans, graduate tax or no tuition fees? Loans are off-putting to many families but a tax on subsequent earnings is not - why is government so opposed to this?
    I never gave a thought to future employment: in those old days, 'going up' was from intellectual/cultural interest. Now, it seems to be a prime consideration, certainly in the way politicians speak of it, so should socially/economically desirable/useful subjects be subsidised and others not?
    I'm sure the Team can more expertly expand on this.
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