GOING to college can involve a move away from home, and students and their parents need to consider the options carefully.
It is a big and perhaps daunting step, so first years are advised either to move into a family home on a "digs" basis or, if available, opt for purpose-built student accommodation, usually on campus or very close by.
The "digs" arrangement has the benefit of keeping hidden costs to a minimum because there are no extras such as utilities, and meals may be provided. In some cases, it is possible to self-cater.
Those who prefer to use the transition to college as an opportunity to become more independent should explore the on-campus accommodation offered by all universities and some other colleges, where the advantages include convenience and security.
In some cases, students on a scholarship, or with a minimum number of points, will be guaranteed on-campus accommodation.
Booking and accommodation allocation arrangements vary, and in some cases applications are or soon will be accepted. Deposits may be sought and may or may not be refundable.
DCU will be accepting applications from Monday, March 4, on www.dcu.ie/accommodation. First years who apply before the deadline and have received 500 points are guaranteed a place.
NUI Galway advises incoming students wishing to book a place in any of its 10 self-catering student residences to do so as early as possible, preferably at the same time as filling the CAO form.
All information is available on www.nuigalway.ie/accommodation or directly from the respective residences. It also has two residences that provide full-board accommodation, Ros Geal for female students and Gort Ard for males.
NUI Maynooth's online application facility is open. Places are offered following a random selection process. Email residence.office@ nuim.ie
TCD's incoming students are mainly accommodated in college residences at Trinity Hall, Dartry, a few miles from the college. Applications will be accepted once CAO offers are made in August.
UCC will open for online applications at the end of February. Information is available on www.uccaccommodation.ie
UCD opens applications in May for its residences, including a new complex of catered accommodation which includes meals. Spaces are allocated on a first come, first served basis. See www.ucd.ie/residences.
UL will open online applications at the beginning of February for first years. Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis, and students can be confident of a room on campus if they apply before the end of May. See www.studentliving.ul.ie.
Waterford IT accepts applications online and accommodation is allocated on a first come, first served basis.
Griffith College Halls of Residence on South Circular Road, Dublin, is open to students from other colleges and convenient for the city centre. See www. gcd-accommodation.ie.
Colaiste Mhuire, Marino student residences are open to students from other colleges and are particularly convenient to St Patrick's College, Drumcondra, and DCU.
St Angela's Student Residences are also open to students at Sligo IT.