Friday 23 February 2018

Parents 'get into debt' over school costs strain

Stock picture
Stock picture

Ian Begley

Primary school education costs 80pc more than parents expect - averaging at €766 a year.

Secondary education is averaging at €1,629 a year and the majority of parents find covering costs a financial burden.

The Cost of Education report, published by Zurich Insurance, also revealed more than half (52pc) of Irish parents find the cost of covering primary school education a strain, with this figure increasing to 68pc for secondary school education.

This results in 18pc of parents of primary school children getting into debt to cover the costs, increasing to 34pc of secondary school parents.

The main contributing factors to the heavy financial burden at primary school level included extra curricular activities (€165), lunch (€110), school trips (€87), books (€80) and uniforms (€124).

In secondary school, costs increase greatly and grinds represent a significant portion of average annual costs (€310). After that, the largest costs are school trips (€201), books (€200) and lunch (€183).

Jonathan Daly, head of retail distribution and propositions, Zurich Life Assurance, told the Irish Independent that more parents should plan well ahead before their children start school.

"Although schools are cutting down costs in different ways there will always be an annual fee that many parents will struggle with if they're not prepared.

"The last thing we want to see is people borrowing money or using credit cards to fund their children's education.

"This often leads to many parents getting into debt, causing a lot of stress and worry," he said.

Looking specifically at parents' saving behaviour, the research found that 77pc of parents have a savings account and save an average of €5,299 a year. Half of those savers say their top saving priority is to cover children's education costs.

The study also saw most primary (86pc) and secondary (74pc) school children bring a packed lunch with them.

Only one in 10 of children in primary schools eats in the school canteen and 13pc in secondary school.

It revealed that the majority of parents of primary (58pc) and secondary (78pc) school children feel schools don't do enough to keep the costs of going back to school down.

Over half of parents felt that making the switch from books to digital devices would be more cost effective in the context of reducing parents' costs.

Irish Independent

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