student maintenance loans and step parents

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Student Money Saving
10 replies 4.8K views
howiebesthowiebest Forumite
4 Posts
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Student Money Saving
Student Maintenance Loans and Step Parents

My step son has started his first year at university and we (mother and step father), like many parents up and down the country are now having to make some significant financial savings in order to fund his living costs at university. Our ‘son’ currently receives the minimum maintenance loan (just over £4000/year) based on our household (where he usually resides) income. His halls of residence fees alone (self-catering) equate to £6800 per year (complete rip off) so we have therefore made the decision to pay for his halls of residence fees leaving him with his maintenance loan to pay for his food and living costs (£100 per week).
My views on student finance broadly fall in line with those of Martin Lewis, i.e. tuition fees are a tax and not a loan and represent a good deal for students. Whereas the maintenance loan is too low and requires additional funding which generally has to come from parents. It raises the question as to when does an adult (which our ‘son’ is), legally become financially independent? At present, it is quite clear that the finances of a student in higher education are not independent; they are calculated solely on the household income (parents/step parents) where he usually resides, which technically makes him an dependent adult.

Having got that off my chest, could I ask for advice/ constructive comments to the following hypothetical scenario: -

If my step son returns from university at the end of his first year of study and ‘independently’ decides as an adult (which he legally is) that he wants to live with his actual father (who is a low earner), would this be ok for him to do? The result of this ‘independent’, adult decision would be that he will now be eligible for a maintenance loan of over £8000 per year and therefore saving us approximately £4000 per year. As a law-abiding citizen, I am concerned that it may look like we are manipulating the system for financial benefit even though our ‘son’ would have made the decision for himself which as an adult he is legally obliged to do so.

Should our ‘son’ consider this option as a realistic proposition? Does anyone out there have experience of this scenario and the possible barriers in place to safeguard against it happening? I would be grateful for any advice.

Thanks

Replies

  • howiebest wrote: »
    Student Maintenance Loans and Step Parents

    My step son has started his first year at university and we (mother and step father), like many parents up and down the country are now having to make some significant financial savings in order to fund his living costs at university. Our ‘son’ currently receives the minimum maintenance loan (just over £4000/year) based on our household (where he usually resides) income. His halls of residence fees alone (self-catering) equate to £6800 per year (complete rip off) so we have therefore made the decision to pay for his halls of residence fees leaving him with his maintenance loan to pay for his food and living costs (£100 per week).
    My views on student finance broadly fall in line with those of Martin Lewis, i.e. tuition fees are a tax and not a loan and represent a good deal for students. Whereas the maintenance loan is too low and requires additional funding which generally has to come from parents. It raises the question as to when does an adult (which our ‘son’ is), legally become financially independent? At present, it is quite clear that the finances of a student in higher education are not independent; they are calculated solely on the household income (parents/step parents) where he usually resides, which technically makes him an dependent adult.

    Having got that off my chest, could I ask for advice/ constructive comments to the following hypothetical scenario: -

    If my step son returns from university at the end of his first year of study and ‘independently’ decides as an adult (which he legally is) that he wants to live with his actual father (who is a low earner), would this be ok for him to do? The result of this ‘independent’, adult decision would be that he will now be eligible for a maintenance loan of over £8000 per year and therefore saving us approximately £4000 per year. As a law-abiding citizen, I am concerned that it may look like we are manipulating the system for financial benefit even though our ‘son’ would have made the decision for himself which as an adult he is legally obliged to do so.

    Should our ‘son’ consider this option as a realistic proposition? Does anyone out there have experience of this scenario and the possible barriers in place to safeguard against it happening? I would be grateful for any advice.

    Thanks

    'Son' :eek: yes not manipulating at all
  • I have used ‘son’ to replace - son of mother and step son of mine. Just for simplicity’s sake.
  • unforeseenunforeseen Forumite
    6.6K Posts
    Tenth Anniversary 1,000 Posts Name Dropper
    ✭✭✭✭
    As a law-abiding citizen, I am concerned that it may look like we are manipulating the system for financial benefit even though our ‘son’ would have made the decision for himself which as an adult he is legally obliged to do so.
    Which is precisely what your son would be doing, no doubt based on a 'suggestion' from you.

    I would think that they would look at residential history and question why the sudden decision to move.
  • silvercarsilvercar Forumite, Board Guide
    42.6K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    This seems a fairly mild form of encouragement, seeing that some parents decide to 'separate' prior to completing applications, in order to maximise the student loan.
    Usually found at a vaccine centre 💉
    I'm a Board Guide on the Debate House Prices & the Economy, House Buying, Renting & Selling, Mortgages and Endowments, In My Home incl DIY, Overseas Holidays & Student boards.
    I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly.
    Board guides are not moderators and don't read every post. If you spot an abusive or illegal post then please report it to [email protected]. Any views are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com.
  • I would have your son call student finance and ask them for advice, if he does genuinely want to move in with his dad then he shouldn't be stopped, but that doesn't mean student finance won't look into why the sudden move happened. I don't know if they'd do that, I've not had experience with it, but who knows.

    Be careful with it all though, if he applies and they think he got more than he should have, he'll have to repay it either out of his maintenance loan or upfront, while would be a lot of money if he's eligible for about £8,000 with his dad.
  • Having read a little deeper on the subject, it appears that students in HE are classed as dependent or independent. Our son is classed as dependent and therefore his household income is taken into consideration when calculating his maintenance loan. I have yet to find any definitive answer as to what is classed as his 'household' and the criteria used to determine this. It seems to be a very confusing state of affairs with regard to the definition of an adult. In most cases I know of, 18 seems to be the age from a legal point of view, but when student finances are concerned, most undergraduates are conveniently classed as dependent students so that their parents have to contribute significant sums of money. I shall be phoning Student Finance England to clarify the definition of 'household'. Thanks to those who have contributed.
  • Ed-1Ed-1 Forumite
    3.4K Posts
    Eighth Anniversary 1,000 Posts Name Dropper
    ✭✭✭✭
    howiebest wrote: »
    Having read a little deeper on the subject, it appears that students in HE are classed as dependent or independent. Our son is classed as dependent and therefore his household income is taken into consideration when calculating his maintenance loan. I have yet to find any definitive answer as to what is classed as his 'household' and the criteria used to determine this. It seems to be a very confusing state of affairs with regard to the definition of an adult. In most cases I know of, 18 seems to be the age from a legal point of view, but when student finances are concerned, most undergraduates are conveniently classed as dependent students so that their parents have to contribute significant sums of money. I shall be phoning Student Finance England to clarify the definition of 'household'. Thanks to those who have contributed.

    The legal position is set out in the student support regulations. The current set is the 2011 regulations which have been amended several times since in relation to amounts etc., but the definitions of dependent and independent student and what counts in the parental income test hasn't:

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2011/1986/pdfs/uksi_20111986_en.pdf

    Happy reading!
  • Thanks for the info, got round to reading The Education (Student Support) Regulations 2011, not quite as long as the EU Draft Withdrawal Agreement but equally as boring!
    Having read the definition of Household income (p140) which makes no reference to which household a student decides to live at for the purpose of maintenance loan calculation I then discovered the following paragraph: -
    “Calculation of parent’s residual income …….
    (10) Where the Secretary of State determines that the parents are separated for the duration of the relevant year, the household income is determined by reference to the income of whichever parent the Secretary of State considers the more appropriate under the circumstances.” (p 143)
    So there you have it! The Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP, Secretary of State for Education decides. So for clarification, I phoned Student Finance England (23/11/18) and posed the question: -
    ME
    “My step son has now decided that he wants to live with his father, does he just amend the details on the application form?”
    SFE
    “Yes, that’s right, ………… we’ll just take his word for it”
    ME
    “Are you sure? This would mean that he qualifies for a higher maintenance loan.”
    SFE
    “Could you hold for a few minutes while I check?”
    ME
    “Please do.”
    SFE
    “Yes, that’s right, ………… we’ll just take his word for it”
    Couldn’t believe it!
  • Hi HowieBest

    Ive just read your poat regarding student maintenance loans. Im potentially going to be ib a very similar situation and was interested by your information.
    I'm moving in with my partner next year who supports his own 2 children. My eldest daughter is at uni and currently receives a maintenance loan. Next year our household income will be higher but i don't expect my partner to support my daughter as well as his own children.
    My ex husband pays nothing in terms of child support and is on a lower income than my partner and doesn't live with anyone. I'm wondering if it is possible to get him to support her maintenance application next year.
    My daughter lives away from uni and doesn't live with us in the true sense of the word anymore. Shes home occasionally for laundry and food restock but spends very little time here.
    I was wondering how you got on with your step sons application and his living with his father?
    Many thanks
  • silvercarsilvercar Forumite, Board Guide
    42.6K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    My ex husband pays nothing in terms of child support and is on a lower income than my partner and doesn't live with anyone. I'm wondering if it is possible to get him to support her maintenance application next year.

    Your daughter would need to apply stating that she lives with her father rather than you. Her father would need to complete the parent income information on the forms.
    Usually found at a vaccine centre 💉
    I'm a Board Guide on the Debate House Prices & the Economy, House Buying, Renting & Selling, Mortgages and Endowments, In My Home incl DIY, Overseas Holidays & Student boards.
    I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly.
    Board guides are not moderators and don't read every post. If you spot an abusive or illegal post then please report it to [email protected]. Any views are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com.
This discussion has been closed.
Latest MSE News and Guides

Card providers to reserve up to £100

When you pay at supermarket fuel pumps

MSE News

Cheap contents insurance for tenants

DON'T assume your landlord covers you

MSE Guides

Summer sizzlers round-up

Incl £2ish sun cream & £1.50 disposable BBQs

MSE Deals