At this time of year there is great excitement and anticipation in many households across the country with the announcement of the Leaving Certificate results and subsequent CAO round one offers. That has certainly been the case in my own houshold and it is indeed a very stressful time for all concerned. Over the coming days and weeks, students will have to make very serious decisions and choices which will decide their future. As parents we all wish them success in their endeavours and we will of course do our very best to support them in their future studies and try to ensure they get the opportunities that they deserve to develop and grow.
Those of us who already have children in 3rd level know only too well of the many challenges to be faced in the coming weeks, months and years. In the difficult economic climate that we now find ourselves in it will be even more difficult for many parents to provide the financial support needed to ensure their children can avail of 3rd level education. The increase in registration fees this year will put considerable pressure on both parents and students starting or returning to 3rd level education. These fees combined with monthly rent and bills, books and materials and day to day expenses will mean that many more will struggle financially this academic year.
To coincide with the round one CAO offers on Monday 22nd August, the Irish League of Credit Unions announced the results of a study into the cost of 3rd level education in Ireland in 2011. The purpose of the study was to give families an idea of what the average monthly costs for students are likely to be, in order to help them budget and plan for the year ahead and indeed the years ahead.
In addition to looking at the issue of financing education, the study also highlights how the current financial crisis has impacted on how students view the current jobs market and their future career prospects in Ireland.
The iReach research indicates that Irish students (72%) are still relying heavily on their parents to help fund their 3rd level education. 39% of parents of fulltime college students use monthly income to fund their child’s college education.
The remaining 61% of parents of full time college students who fund their child’s education are forced to locate finances from other sources: Savings (38%) and Credit Union loans (11%) are the second and third most common methods used followed by bank loan (7%) and credit card (4%)
On top of academic fees, average monthly spend (excluding rent and bills) stands at approximately €480. As expected, rents in Dublin are still the highest in the country averaging at €380, followed by rents in Munster, greater Leinster and Connacht / Ulster. Food is the most expensive element of a student’s monthly budget with an average student spending (€148) per month on groceries. The research indicates that female students spend more on food (€163) compared to males (€128) per month. Travel is also an expensive part of the budget of 3rd level students with an average of €82 being spent on commuting to and from college each month. Male students spend more on phone bills per month than female students (€42 versus €39).
Our research also showed that 55% of students are forced to work throughout the academic year with 33% skipping lectures to do so. Students are making on average €10 euro per hour and working an average 14.5 hours per week, with male students working slightly longer hours than females.
We want to let people know that credit unions are available to support both parents and students as they prepare for the academic year. Credit unions offer some of the most competitive personal, student and education loan rates on the market. While the costs associated with supporting students at 3rd level are very significant, budgeting and planning can reduce the worry and concern for students and parents alike. We encourage anyone who is looking for educational finance or who simply wants some advice on planning ahead or budgeting to call into their local credit union and speak to a member of staff.
On behalf of myself and everyone at the Irish League of Credit Unions, we want to take this opportunity to wish all those students who begin college this year the very best of luck and continued success in their studies for the years ahead.