Rent boom and travel costs push college bills above €11k
The annual cost of college for third-level students living away from home will rise above €11,000 from September.
Booming rent levels, a dramatic increase in travel costs and the jump in the annual student contribution charge, to €3,000, are pushing up costs.
The growing financial strain on families was evident in the past academic year, with continued increased demand on the Student Assistance Fund set up to help hardship cases.
Thousands of students leave home to attend college, many of them moving from rural Ireland to Dublin. Rent nationally is up an average of 6pc - an additional €160 a year to €2,925 (for the nine months) and by even more in Dublin.
While the national average figure for student monthly rent in 2015/16 is €325, in Dublin it is around €418, and can vary widely from less than €348 per month for a shared room, up to €1,089 or more for a one-bedroom unit in Dublin 2.
Rent levels have almost returned to peaks of 2007 and, if current trends continue, will hit those levels in 2017.
Students also face a massive 13pc or €144 hike in travel costs, bringing the average annual bill to €1,125. This is the second year in a row that travel costs have risen dramatically, despite fare capping on Leap cards.
The figures, prepared by the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) Campus Life service, are produced annually to help students preparing to start in higher education in September.
One very noticeable difference in the table this year is the significant drop in the amount allocated for social life or miscellaneous costs.
In recent years, DIT estimated the average student spend on social life at around €1,000.
However, this has been revised downwards based on results from the Eurostudent 2013 survey which shows that student expenditure in this area has decreased significantly since similar surveys in 2006 and 2009.
Campus Life manager Brian Gormley said the drop in expenditure on social life could be down to a number of reasons.
"Firstly, fewer students have part-time work and therefore have less money to spend.
Secondly, drinking patterns have changed and rather than going out, students are buying cheaper alcohol in supermarkets and drinking at home.
"There are some positive trends too, as Irish students seem to be drinking less. There has also been a significant drop in the number of students who smoke, which also saves them money," he said.
About 43pc of students receive grants and will have their €3,000 student charge paid by the State and may also receive maintenance grants to help meet living costs, but many struggle to bridge the gap between the grants and outgoings, while families that are marginally over the threshold for grants also feel a strain.
While the average spend on class materials and equipment is given as €495, this can vary greatly, particularly for students in arts, sciences and catering.
Additional information on the Cost of Living Guide can be found on www.dit.ie/life.