With university tuition cost at an all-time high, more and more students are looking to commute to University rather than paying out to stay in halls or renting a room.  But how do you manage the daily commute, living at home and ensuring you still get the University experience?

This is an issue that needs careful consideration and discussion.  Most parents want to help their kids – and many young adults want to get a taste of independence (even if having to do their own laundry comes as a shock).  If your family decides that choosing a nearby University could help to reduce the build up of a massive debt, then you need to agree some rules.

Set boundaries

University is not like school and there is a great deal more time for independent study, research and the writing of papers for submission.  It’s important that the student in your home gets the study time they need.  It’s not like doing homework.

However, just because they’re at home, doesn’t mean a free ride. Most students can fit in a part-time job around their studies and you will need to agree what is reasonable for your son or daughter to contribute, both financially and in doing their share at home.

If they were in a hall of residence, they would have to get their own meals and do their laundry, living at home doesn’t mean that parents become the live-in butler and housekeeper.  It’s important to agree what they will do up front.

Budget

They will still be entitled to their student loan, but will save money on accommodation, food and associated accommodation-based bills.  However, depending on how far away the University is, travel costs come into play.

Encourage your student to explore the different options to travel to the campus.  These are the things they should be doing:

  • Get a student rail or bus ticket and know the off-peak fares.
  • If it’s possible to cycle, check out the route and if there are any cycle paths.
  • For a car, check out the costs of travel and whether there’s parking, also when to expect heavy traffic on the route.
  • Could car-sharing be an option with another student? Post on the University forums and social media groups to see if there are others in your area who travel at similar times.

It may be that a weekly or monthly ticket isn’t actually saving money, especially if they’re only in two or three days a week. It may work out better to pay out for a ticket each day using the student discount.

Responsibility

There will be times when getting up to go to lectures after a heavy weekend can be a challenge.  Motivation is low, but you should ensure that your student doesn’t expect you to be their in-house motivator.  Make this clear right from the start and don’t be tempted to keep chivvying them to get out of bed – they are now an adult and need to take responsibility for their own actions.

It’s the first step towards independence, they’ll still get the University experience, but it should not be at the expense of learning to live life as an adult.