Cost of leaving home for college will rise to more than €12,000 in next academic year
The cost of going to college will rise to an average of €12,171 in the upcoming academic year for students living away from home - but there are big savings to be made by going for the "digs" accommodation option.
Students can save up to €378 a month by living with a host family rather than in rented accommodation, according to the Technological University (TU) Dublin annual cost of living guide.
The overall projected annual cost of living is up from an average €11,829 last year, with accommodation the main area where prices have increased significantly.
The TU Dublin figures include the €3,000 a year student contribution charge - although not all students have to pay this - as well as other expenses such as travel, food, books and socialising.
The guide looks at accommodation costs nationally and the average rent figure for 2019-20 year is put at €469 - up from €430 last year - but in Dublin the average is projected to be €574, up from €541.
For students who continue to live at home while attending college, the annual costs is put at €6,771, also including the €3,000 college fee.
Dr Brian Gormley of TU Dublin's Campus Life service said, contrary to the perception there was very little accommodation available in Irish cities, their research showed there was widespread availability of host family accommodation.
He said living with a family was significantly cheaper than other options on the market and could amount to savings up to €378 a month.
Dr Gormley said the cost of living with a host family averaged €140 per week, and students typically paid for 25-30 weeks, rather than a 40-week commitment with on-campus accommodation.
He also pointed out that the cost covered bills, while many host families also provided optional extras such as breakfast and evening meals.
"Of all the accommodation options, this is the most economical and also offers the most flexibility.
"For parents, it also comes with the peace of mind that their son or daughter is living in secure housing, often with a family," he said.
Dr Gormley offered other cost-saving tips for prospective students and their families including:
:: Start looking for accommodation early and compare prices - availability is increasing in the student accommodation market, with developments opening in September 2019 which are anxious to fill their spaces;
:: Check entitlements in relation to tax relief on fees. Anyone paying for more than one student in full-time education can claim relief on the student charge for the second or subsequent children. Also, there may be a possibility of tax relief if paying tuition fees for a post-graduate programme, a part-time programme or for repeating the year;
:: A Child Leap travel card is valid until a student turns 19, which may reduce the weekly cost of travel by more than 60pc;
:: Commuting, even long distances, may be more cost effective than paying the rental prices in the bigger cities;
:: Check out whether there are scholarships for which a student may be eligible.