Budgeting & Banking

How to ask your parents for money

Most students need help from the bank of mum and dad at some point during uni. Use this guide to work out just how much you should be asking for!
Asking your parents for money
Budgeting to cover rent, bills, food, books and of course a little beer money on the side is no mean feat – especially when you're relying solely on your maintenance loan, which we know is nowhere near enough to cover current living costs in the UK.

You might be surprised to hear that the government actually expects your parents to contribute towards your living costs on top of the maintenance loan they give you.

Should your parents contribute?

living costsSource: National Student Money Survey
Asking for money is never easy, and it's even harder if you think your parents can't really afford to help you out. However, it's worth remembering that the amount of loan (and grant if you started uni before 2016) you are given by the government depends on your household income – student loans are what we call ‘means tested'.

Basically, if your parents earn over £25,000 a year between them you won't be able to get the full loan.

The more the ‘rents earn over this amount, the less you get, and this is because the government ‘assume' that your parents will be financially comfortable enough to be able to make up the additional costs by supporting you.

The following tables indicate how much students receive in maintenance loan based on their parents' salaries. These figures are based on those students living outside of London (if you're living away from home in London, your expenses will be much higher, as any London student you meet will testify!).

Note that we've included two tables depending on your starting year – Click on the option that applies to you below.

If your parents are unaware that the government bases the maintenance loan model on the idea that they will help you out, now's the time to fill them in!

It's worth noting that whether the maximum loan amount available is even enough to live off is still another argument entirely.

How much ‘should' your parents contribute?

helpmeplzEvery week we receive emails from students asking how much their parents should contribute towards their living costs.

How much your ‘rents give you really just comes down to personal circumstance. However, as a bit of guidance, we've taken the time to develop a calculator showing what your parents are ‘expected' to contribute each year:

Parent calculator

For the raw figures, expand the table below:

Disclaimer: Please be aware that these are simply suggested parental contributions. Figures are simply to act as a guide, as opposed to a definite amount.

The amounts above were calculated based on the assumption that any students whose parents earn below £25,000 won't be contributing, yet the amount they'll receive is £7,177 per year (for 2015-16 AY students and earlier) and £8,200 per year (for those students who will begin uni in 2016-17 AY).

Therefore, the logic is that it would be fair to allow other students to receive the same or a similar amount.

Tips for asking for parent support

So you've read through our tables and realised you should be asking your parents for a bit of support to make ends meet. This is progress!

However, for many students, the hardest part is actually taking the leap and initiating that conversation. No need to sweat about this – we've come up with ten top tips to consider that will make the whole process much easier (and your chances of actually getting the green light much higher!).

  1. Show them you're taking uni seriously

    studyingFirst butter your folks up by demonstrating that you're taking your studies, and the whole experience of uni more generally, at least a tiny bit seriously. Now's the time to tell them about those good grades you've been getting!

    Your parents are more likely to dish out cash if they're convinced it will contribute towards your transformation from sulky teenager to mature independent adult.

    You may have done more research into the local bars and nightclubs than you have in the library, but if you want money honey, that's all gotta change!

  2. Do the math

    budgetdognocatEssentially, if you can show your ‘rents that you've thought carefully about your outgoings each week/month, and can have it all written down clearly for them to see, they'll be more comfortable forking out, as you're demonstrating that you're thinking practically about money.

    Maybe translate the term “beer money” into “other expenses” or something similar for the purpose of this exercise, however. Your parents won't consider ‘freshers week’ as sound an investment as you do!

  3. Offer a return on investment

    ROIWhen asking for a loan from the bank of mum and dad (or a grant, depending on how generous they're feeling), it's a good idea to think of yourself as a small business bursting with potential, and so your ‘investors' will be expecting some form of return on their investment (ROI).

    Think along the lines of decent exam results and/or simply the promise that you’ll return home knowing how to actually turn the washing machine on.

    The best way to do this is to keep your parents in the loop about your achievements and things you've done that they might be impressed by.

    Whether this involves you managing your first wash load without dying everything pink or that you gained top marks on your last assignment, it’s all great material!

  4. Be subtle

    veruca-saltBeginning a conversation about money with a straight up ‘I want/need’ is how to guarantee yourself a certified flop.

    Getting the right balance on this one can be tricky, but it's an art you'll need to master now that you're entering into the big bad world of adult life and scary things like salary negotiations!

    Spend time letting your parents know how you're finding your uni experience, and maybe drop in a few mentions of particularly big expenses that you weren't expecting (a pricey textbook for a class, or something similar).

    Dropping hints about your tough financial situ will mentally prepare your parents for the bombshell that's about to come!

  5. Show you have an understanding of money


    Research suggests you're more likely to be able to convince someone to do what you want if you begin by reaching mutual agreement on a subject.

    So, impress your parents with comments like “it's crazy how much gas and electricity costs these days, isn't it?” and other money-related complaints.

    We all love a good moan about money, so this is a subject that should be received with unanimous agreement! It'll also satisfy your parents to hear you're starting to understand the value of money, and that the bills don't just pay themselves!

  6. Come prepared

    organiseSpend some time gathering all your info and preparing some reasons and examples for why you need some financial help from your parents.

    A recent study by Columbia Business School found that employees who put in salary requests for unique amounts were more likely to be successful.

    Whilst we wouldn’t recommend asking your parents for a yearly income, it is a good idea to bring a specific figure to the table as it shows you’ve done your homework and calculated exactly how much you need rather than just saying you ‘need money'.

    Use the tables above to help come up with your figure – that's what they're there for!

  7. Try to be adult about it

    Tiny turtle - show me the money
    In your quest for cash, be sure to avoid bratty phrases like “it’s your fault I don’t get a bigger student loan” (yes we know that could technically be true, but pointing fingers won't help anyone) or “but my friends all get money from their parents.”

    This sort of childish attitude will do you no favours and will only reverse all your hard work by making it look like you see receiving money from your ‘rents as a right rather than a privilege. This is not the case – your aim is to show your parents that you're adult enough to understand that asking for money is a serious request and one you don't take lightly.

  8. Help them empathise with you

    empathyThere's a really important difference between the words 'empathy' and ‘sympathy' here. The aim is to put your parents in a position that they can empathise with you – that is, be able to clearly put themselves in your shoes and understand your struggle (and therefore want to help you out).

    This is not about getting them to sympathise with you by breaking down into tears in their kitchen wailing about how hard life is when you can't afford Sky tv in your bedroom.

    The sympathy route is one that a lot of young people opt for, but in reality, parents know this technique all too well and will have watched you try this manoeuvre since you were in nappies.

    Instead, impress them by trying the more adult option of empathy – you'll be surprised at how much further this will get you.

  9. Learn to budget

    BudgetingWe know, we know – budgeting is a word most students are sick to death of hearing these days. However, as painful as it might seem at first, teaching yourself how to put together a weekly or monthly budget whilst at uni will make your money stretch so much further.

    More to the point – your parents will be impressed if they can see that you're taking serious steps towards becoming financially responsible.

    Showing your parents that you’re not frittering your cash away on pointless expenditures will make them more happy to help you out on those things you really need.

    And no – finding the best 2-4-1 drink deals doesn't count here, unfortunately. Showing you've researched the best value student broadband package and need help paying for it? That's more like it!

    Need help working out how to budget? Head over to our student budgeting page for all the info you need.

  10. If all else fails – negotiate

    negotiateIt's true that in some cases, your parents may turn you down when you ask for some financial help. However, throwing a strop certainly won't solve anything.

    What we'd suggest you do in this situation is either negotiate the amount you're asking for, and make up the extra necessary cash with a part-time job, or come to some sort of compromise.

    An example of a nice compromise would be that your parents get you a pre-paid supermarket card such as Sainsbury's Everyday shopping card. This allows them to top up your card remotely with cash that can only be spent on groceries, and will therefore keep their pennies out of the tills at Topshop!

Alternative options for making money

Fry from Futurama - take my money memeUnsuccessful with your quest to squeeze more cash out of your parents? Don't worry about it! There are loads more other options you can explore.

Learning to budget and finding your own ways to make cash will get your entrepreneurial juices flowing which could make you more employable when you leave uni. Check out our list of business ideas you can try out on the side of your degree.

Don't have the time of patience to start your next business venture? We also have a serious list of ways to make a quick buck online, so you can start raking in the cash ASAP.

Do you feel that your parents give you enough support during your time at university? We'd love to hear your thoughts.

Leave a comment

Leave a Facebook comment