These days, achieving funding for University education can be a mix and match process for young people.

Student Finance Loans for tuition fees (repaid as a percentage by the student from their income above a salary level (for October 2013, at 9% of their income above £21,000) when the student commences earning) are a primary source of funding, as are maintenance loans for living costs (provided on a means-tested basis on the parents’ previous year tax return). A maintenance grant may available to the student in a low-income household.

In most cases, the student will have a shortfall which will be met by either or a combination of student earnings, bank overdraft or parental support. Unfortunately the latter may not be an easy route where parents are separated. Separated parents may not be in good communication and may not wish to enter dialogue if likely to re-kindle old issues which arose at time of negotiating or litigating on a previous financial settlement. Indeed, the whole issue, unfortunately deflecting from pride and happiness that their child is embarking upon higher education, can give rise to renewed and sometimes bitter confrontation between parents.

In such cases, it will be important to consider whether there is already a Court order in place which may operate to decide how the education expenditure will be treated or which may need to be varied to cover the education expenditure. Many questions arise and will need to be managed. For example, should the child be paid directly or should one parent make payment to the other parent to structure the payments? Do payments need to be monthly or termly? Will either parent need to continue to provide housing in the family home for their student child? Will a return to Court to achieve a variation of an existing order be necessary or can Court proceedings be avoided and an agreement negotiated?

For further information and advice please contact our Family team –