Gap between rents and grants grows
There is a widening gulf between accommodation costs and what students who depend on State maintenance grants receive to support them in their college studies.
The maximum maintenance grant, paid to the least well-off students, is €5,915 a year, but the most widely paid one amounts to €3,025. Of the 83,000 students who received a grant payment last year, almost 20,000 qualified for €3,025.
While grants will cover accommodation costs in some areas, they are well short of, or only just about match, what students may have to pay for private rented accommodation or to live on-campus, particularly in Dublin.
However, as well as accommodation, students also depend on grants for other living costs, such as food, books and utilities, if they are to avoid overly long hours in part-time jobs to help pay the bills, which can be detrimental to their studies.
Maintenance grants have not increased for years; in fact, cuts in rates and eligibility criteria that were imposed at the height of the financial crisis have not been reversed.
Many families who do not qualify for State support are also challenged to meet the cost of supporting a child in college, particularly those living away from home. An Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) survey last year showed, on average, parents contribute €447 a month to a child in college.