MORE and more third-level students are being forced to work part-time jobs to get through college with their studies suffering as a result.
A majority of Kerry students are turning to part-time work as parents are finding it increasingly difficult to cover the cost of their children's college needs.
Credit Unions in Kerry have also noticed a massive spike in the numbers of applications for college loans.
Based on a survey of website prices for accommodation, The Kerryman has found that the cost of college is now close to €14,000 per year. College fees, steep rents, travel, food and books are forcing more and more Kerry students to seek part-time work and/or help from the financial institutions.
One Kerry student, who didn't wish to be named, said that the apparently tough means by which grant-aid is tested is also adding to the pressure on many families.
"I don't qualify for a grant and I think it is really unfair because we are also finding it tough paying all the college fees," the 19-year-old Tralee IT student told The Kerryman.
"I am lucky enough to still live at home but I do feel that there should be something given to people who don't qualify for a grant as times are tough for everyone."
Former President of the Irish League of Credit Unions John O'Regan, from Causeway, said the lending institutions in Kerry have seen a sharp rise in applications for loans.
The League this week revealed that applications have increased significantly across the country.
"We are certainly seeing a significant increase in Kerry. The difficulty now is that parents are under increasing financial pressure and they are facing large accommodation and fee costs."
Students who are required to go on work placements for long periods are finding it even tougher as the work is unpaid and leaves them with little time for paid, part-time work.
"I understand that my employers are obliging me by giving me the work, but it is tough when the placement is full time because I can't get a part-time job. The placement is part of my college course and is something that I am required to do," he explained.
College student Aoife Griffin from Castleisland said that the steep rise in fuel prices is also hitting home: "The rise in petrol will affect me personally. I am in college in Cork so I drive up and down every week so it will have a big impact on me. I work part time and the money I earn will go towards the petrol I use when travelling to and from college."