3,000 pounds student bonds offer

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The Independent Online
THE A-LEVEL results are out and university beckons for many students, but parents may be looking at the prospect with a sinking heart.

Students have always had a financial struggle, but this can only worsen now that grants have been cut by 10 per cent for the coming academic year, and will be cut by 10 per cent again in the following two years. Student loans are increasing by 44 per cent in the coming year to fill the gap. Parents will also find themselves having to contribute more.

The Independent plans to highlight the changing way that families are financing higher education by following three families through the experience of having a son or daughter at university.

Barclays Bank is providing pounds 1,000-worth of premium bonds for each of the three families - half for the parents and half for the student - as an incentive for families to take part.

That gives each family an evens chance of winning two prizes during the three years - anything from pounds 50 to pounds 1m, or the bonds can be turned into cash within eight working days.

Two or three times a year we will ask the student and the parents how they are managing on a tight budget and we will also ask the parents how they are coping with the added financial strain.

Students do not have to bank with Barclays or even have a bank account arranged yet. We will try to select a cross-section of students to give an overview of student (and parent) life in the 1990s. The personal finance editor's decision is final.