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Save to send your child to university

How much do you need to save for your child to go to uni? Mobile piggybacking top sim deals, free McDonalds and £5ish Odeon cinema tickets. These are our Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis’ Tips of the Week.

Remember, deals can change quickly, even while I’m on the programme. So always double-check the terms and conditions before spending. Plus, while I hope these deals will save you cash, don’t spend if you can’t afford it, don’t need it, or won’t use it.

How much do you need to save for your child to go to university?

This year’s main university application deadline has just passed, and whether you’re a student or a parent one of the big things to consider is the financing. Tuition fees are the easy bit. All first time UK undergraduates get them paid for them by the Student Loan Company. You only repay them if and when you earn enough after you leave (repaying 9% of everything above £25,725 for 30 years or until you clear what you borrowed plus interest).

Yet while at 18 you’re old enough to vote, marry and fight for our country - true adult independence – you’re not an independent adult under the student finance system. As, for most who live in England, a big chunk of their maintenance (living costs) loan - over half in many cases - is dictated by, effectively, a means test of parental income. The higher it is, the less they get. The reduction starts at just £25,000 total family income. The max total shortfall is over £15,000. Logic implies parents are expected to fill the gap. Yet they're never told. Students just get loans that aren't enough to live off.

For years I've met a parade of uni ministers to ask them to make this transparent. They've nodded but done nothing. So, you need to figure it out yourself. To help Martin’s new free ‘how much should I save for my child to go to University’ Calc helps work out how much you’ll need to save for your child’s living costs (even if it’s a decade away).

For example, if you started next year, the gap between the full loan and what you get, (so effectively the parental contribution), for someone living away from home outside London is..

Total family income £35,000 - £3,900 contribution over 3-year courseTotal family income £50,000 - £9,750 contribution over 3-year courseTotal family income £75,000+ - £14,400 contribution over a 3 year course

Equally, that means those with much younger children who may one day want to go to university should consider saving up now.

iD mobile 1GB data, unlimited minutes and texts for £6/mth on a one-month rolling contract (it’s £5/mth if you go via many comparison sites including Compare The Market, Broadband Choices and Uswitch). Smarty – a no-frills Three sim – has 30GB data sim with unlimited minutes and texts for £10/mth, also a one-month rolling contract.

02: Sky Mobile piggybacks off 02 and has a 3GB sim with unlimited minutes and texts for £6/mth on a 12-month contract. GiffGaff also on 02’s network has 6GB with unlimited minutes and texts for £10/mth on a one-month contract.

EE: Virgin Mobile piggybacks of EE and has a 2GB with 1,000 mins and unlimited texts for £6/mth on a 12mth contract, or 8GB with 5,000 minutes for £9/mth.

Vodafone: Vodafone’s Basic sim is 1.5GB for £6/mth with unlimited minutes and texts on a 12-month contract or Voxi has 8GB sim with unlimited minutes and texts for £10/mth on a 0ne-month contract.

Martin’s Quickies:

Free McDonald's fries and McMuffin this weekend: Those who’ve downloaded the free McDonald’s app until Sunday 26 Jan can get its daily deals, where you can get discounted or even free food. The deals are available to new and existing users of the app. Tomorrow (Friday 24 Jan) you can get totally free regular fries (normally £1ish), and on Sunday 26 Jan you can get a free McMuffin (normally £2ish). For the freebies you don’t need to buy anything else, just show the code which you’ll find in the app at the cash desk. Most but not all McDonald’s restaurants are participating – you can easily find out via the app whether your local one is included.

‘£5ish’ Odeon cinema tickets: Go online to deals site Groupon by Friday 6 March and you can get five Odeon tickets for £23.75 or two for £11.50 (factoring in the 75p per ticket booking fee). You don't have to use all the tickets in one go and they can be used by different people – so ideal for families or a group of mates. They need using by 20 March, and work with most 2D screenings barring some upcoming movies, eg, Bad Boys for Life and Dolittle, before certain dates – usually during their first week or so of release. Whether it’s a winner depends on your local Odeon as standard prices vary between £3 and £18.

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