Tuesday 16 January 2018

Learn how to budget

As money is tight in the majority of households it makes sense to set a budget for the college student. Families sending a child to college should first work out how much money they have coming in and how much they have going out.

It makes sense to try and get as many course books as possible second hand. It is worth checking out campus bookshops.

Do some research into all the discounts that students are entitled to and use them well. Learn to love Lidl and Aldi.

Students should get into the habit of taking only as much money as they can afford on a night out -- and leaving the ATM card at home. For those students struggling financially it is worth asking about the college's financial assistance fund.


Taking out a loan is one option to consider, but flexible repayment plans are essential to ensure that the debt doesn't get too unwieldy to handle.

Credit unions tend to knock the socks off banks and building societies when it comes to their interest rates on education loans.

Many credit unions have rates as low as 4pc if you are borrowing to fund an educational course.

All the main banks offer student loans, with Ulster Bank the best value with a 7pc rate for €5,000 borrowed over five years. The maximum loan amount is usually about €4,000.

Tax relief is available in respect of college fees paid in private third-level institutions, in institutions abroad and by repeat students and part-time students.

Tax relief is given at the standard rate (20pc). You can only claim for one course for any individual in any tax year. There is no limit on the number of individuals for whom you can claim.

The maximum amount of qualifying fees allowable under the tax relief scheme for undergraduate and postgraduate courses is €5,000.

Credit cards

All the main banks offer special credit card accounts to students. But the interest rates and fees on these are just as high and nasty as the ordinary credit cards.

Ulster Bank is the most expensive as it charges 17.9pc for purchases and 22.9pc for cash withdrawals. National Irish Bank is at the other end of the scale with a rate for purchases of 11.6pc on its standard card.

However, money experts advise that credit cards are "inflexible fiends" and are best avoided as getting into debt on a credit card is one of the biggest pitfalls of college.

When it comes to student loans and credit cards students should not allow themselves to get behind on their repayments.

Irish Independent

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