herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

Going to college now costs €1,000 a month

Mandy Johnston from the Irish League of Credit Unions
Mandy Johnston from the Irish League of Credit Unions

COLLEGE costs – almost €1,000 a month – are so high that parents are saving for third-level education for at least a decade.

A new survey by the Irish League of Credit Unions has revealed that the monthly bills for a student living away from home have rocketed.

Rising costs are battering the budgets of nearly three quarters of students' families.

The League found that eight out of 10 parents are supporting their children with college-related costs, contributing €421 a month on average per child.

The overall monthly cost is now €516, to cover daily expenses like food, travel, books, clothing and phone calls.

But when rent and utility bills are added, the cost for those living away from home rises to €950.

The average saving period for parents preparing for their children's further education is eight years.

The findings come as 56,000 Leaving Cert students are due to receive their results tomorrow, with many hoping to secure a place at third level when the offers are made on Monday.

Soaring costs mean that the number of students living away from home during their education has dropped from half in 2011 to one third last year.

And while fear of failing exams is low among students, at only 12pc, one in 12 will drop out of college this year solely due to the financial stress.

The survey also found that more than half of students expect to have to emigrate to find work when they graduate.

And the costs look set to rise more in the future.

The annual registration fee, €2,500 this September, will be €2,750 in the next academic year, and €3,000 the year after.

Costs

While these costs rise, delays in issuing grants are compounding the financial nightmare for students and their parents, with a third of householders saying they miss essential bills like paying for electricity as money is diverted to college costs.

The revelations about the spiralling cost of third-level education come as families are rocked by the introduction of the property tax this year, health insurance rises, increases in motoring costs and hikes in fuel costs, and water charges coming down the line.

Head of communications at the League of Credit Unions Mandy Johnston said many parents were going into debt to put their sons and daughters through college.

"Credit union loans alone have seen a jump from 11pc in 2011 to 25pc in 2013," she said.

And a small number of parents are so strapped for cash that they are forced to use their credit cards to fund the back-to-college expenses.

"Families are already struggling with the wider impact of austerity and the economic downturn and paying for college has become increasingly challenging for many."

cfeehan@herald.ie

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