I’ve often wondered why tuition fees and bursaries in England are determined by parental income when the students in question are adults and therefore aren’t the parents’ responsibility any more.
However, today I happened to read this article which explains that parents are expected to help their children with their education costs until they turn 25:
What most parents (whether separated, divorced or still together) are probably not aware of however, is that if their child embarks upon higher education, then as the child’s parents, they have a legal obligation to continue to support that child financially from age 18 until the child turns 25. […] This is known as aliment.
If the parents refuse to do so, the kid can take them to court:
What this means in practice, is that a student child who perhaps feels that they are not receiving as much, if any, financial support from their parents as they require, has the option to instruct a solicitor of their own to take either or both parents to court and to seek a formal award of aliment in their favour.
If this is also the case in England, at least I now understand how they can take the parental income into consideration.
As far as I can see, children of many divorced couples can milk the system, however. University fees and bursaries are decided solely by the income of the custodial parent (normally the mother) in the case of divorced couples, but the child can take both parents to court to refusing to help financially. So in theory, if the main custodial is poor and the other parent is rich, the student can get reduced fees and a big bursary, and in addition they can sue their rich parent for extra money.
It’s not an ideal system. I’d prefer everybody to be treated as full adults from their 18th birthday, and looking at parental income for adult children should be abolished.