Tuesday 20 March 2018

Parents forced to borrow for €10,000 college costs

Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

THE cost of going to college now stands at just under €10,000 a year with parents taking out loans to fund their children's education.

A study by the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) has found that nine out of 10 parents support their child through third level, contributing, on average, €410 a month.

Most parents use part of their monthly income, savings or credit union loans to cover this cost.

But one in 10 are taking out costly bank loans or using credit cards.

On top of the increased student services' charge of €2,000, students spend an average of €400 on rent and household bills and €484 on living expenses each month.

Based on the nine-month academic year, this takes the annual cost of college to €9,956.

Food is the most expensive monthly living expense at €148 on average, although male students spend just €128.


Male students also spend €102 a month socialising, compared to just €81 spent by their female classmates.

Students fork out €82 a month on travel to and from college and around €40 on mobile phone costs and €65 on books and materials.

Female students spend €65 each month on clothes, while the boys spend just €50.

"The increase in registration fees this year will put phenomenal pressure on both parents and students starting or returning to third-level education," Kieron Brennan, chief executive of ILCU, said.

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

Almost three-quarters of students surveyed said they were mainly relying on their parents for financial support.

Just over half had part-time jobs during term-time and a third of these admitted they skipped lectures to work.

Students worked on average for just over 14 hours a week and were paid €10 an hour.

The survey of 1,000 students also found that three-quarters believe they may have to emigrate to find work after they graduate.

Half of those surveyed said they had chosen their college course based on the best chance of getting a job after graduation, rather than because they were interested in the subject.

Meanwhile, the Union of Student in Ireland (USI) has urged students to apply as early as possible for the maintenance grant following lengthy delays in the issuing of cheques last year.

Gary Redmond, USI president, said: "The grant scheme was published a lot later than usual this year and this has meant students are applying later... the earlier you apply the more likely you are to get your payment on time."

Grants are awarded by either Vocational Education Committees (VEC) or through the local authorities, depending on where you live.

For the first time 22 out of the 33 VECs and 13 out of the 33 local authorities will accept applications online at www.studentfinance.ie. These bodies are responsible for awarding almost 80pc of grants.

From next year, the awarding of grants will be centralised with the City of Dublin VEC paying grants for all students.

Irish Independent

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