Saturday 24 August 2019

Majority of parents forced to borrow for college costs

Average of €450 a month paid out by parents for children

Ed Farrell
Ed Farrell
Going to college
Aibhe Sheridan from Rush with her mother Sinead (on left) and music teacher Aine Lynch after she received her Leaving Cert results at St Josephs's secondary School, Rush, County Dublin
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Parents celebrating their children's Leaving Cert success will be hit with massive bills to support them through college.

Some 57,000 students got their Leaving Cert results yesterday, with most expected to take up a course at third-level.

But more than half of parents will get into debt to support their children's third-level education.

There has also been a massive jump in the number of students living at home, reflecting spiralling rents and a lack of accommodation.

Most families are having to financially support their children in third-level education, with the cost of children going to college putting a huge strain on the finances of families.

The average contribution being made by parents with sons and daughters in third-level education is now €450 a month, new research from the Irish League of Credit Unions shows.

Key findings of the new survey include:

  • 59pc of parents get into debt to cover college costs.
  • The average debt being taken on by parents each year is €5,030 per child.
  • Some 62pc of students choose to live at home, compared with 44pc in 2013.
  • Students living away from home spend €1,033 a month, with those living at home spending €474 per month on average.

Parents say they save on average for eight years to fund the cost of college, but one in 10 parents will have to resort to using a moneylender.

The survey, which was conducted among 1,000 adults by market research firm iReach, found that 72pc of parents say they are really struggling to cover the cost of their child's third-level education.

This is despite the fact that the majority of students work throughout the academic year to help fund the cost of college. And close to half get some form of grant.

The cost of books, rents, the registration fee, and day-to-day expenses means the average family is taking on high levels of debt.

One of the biggest outlays is on the cost of the registration fee, which is set to hit €3,000 this year. Most family budgets are adversely impacted by the cost of the registration fee.

And there has been a sharp rise this year in the number of students living at home in a bid to save money, according to the survey. In what appears to reflect confidence in the economy, eight out of 10 students feel they will be able to find a job in Ireland when they complete college.


And there has been a sharp fall in the numbers who feel they will have to emigrate.

Interest in a subject continues to be the primary reason why students choose their college course, followed by job prospects. Location of course is another major factor when students opt for a course.

Monthly income and savings continue to be the most popular ways in which parents fund their child's third-level education.

Credit union loans are the next most popular method, followed by a bank.

Chief executive of the Irish League of Credit Unions Ed Farrell said the cost of college and university puts pressure on both parents and students.

"The increased registration fees combined with monthly rent and bills, books and materials and day-to-day expenses are a significant financial burden to many families."

He said it was worrying that 10pc of parents will consider a moneylender to help cover the costs of their child or children's college education.

He urged parents to talk to their credit union first. They were available to support both parents and students, he said.

Irish Independent

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