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Parenting & Education in Ireland

Cost of College Education

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While the average cost of sending a child to primary and secondary school might seem high, the expenses associated with third level education are in a completely different ballpark.

All 'free-fees' third level institutions charge a mandatory student contribution the maximum rate for 2018-2019 is €3,000 per year.

Unfortunately, this student contribution is just one of the costs likely to be incurred. Add to this the increase in travel expenses and the rising cost of rent for students living away from home, and you can see how quickly the cost of putting your child through third level education can add up.

The Zurich Cost of Education Survey 2018 found that when it comes to third level, unsurprisingly accommodation represents a substantial average annual cost.

In 2018, 54% of college students are living at home but the number of students living in rented accommodation has almost doubled from 16% last year compared to 29% this year.

There is a dramatic increase in the average spend for student accommodation from €2,628 to €3,442 but the biggest increases is in the rental sector where students can expect to pay between €3,000 and €4,000 on rent during the academic year.

In the most recent college year, 53% of parents said their children’s college fees were between €2,000 and €4,000 – up 10% compared to 2017. The average spend on third level fees went up noticeably from €2,066 to €2,419..

Another noticeably shift is in the mode of transport that third level students are using. Students have switched their main modes of transport to college from cars and cycling to using public transport and walking. It’s not surprising that students are trying to cut transport costs given that the number of third level students spending €900+ on transport has nearly doubled and the average spend on transport to college has increased from €258 to €303.

Building up Funds

A great education is the best possible start in life and for most parents ensuring they can provide for their children's education, from primary school right through to third level, is crucial. Our Cost of Education research clearly shows that college education doesn't come cheap and by the time a teenager reaches third level, parents are really feeling the pressure of funding their children through university or college.

While accommodation is the biggest financial drain for college students, other costs such as transport and living expenses can quickly add up. In addition, for parents who provide financial support to their children in third level, 66% help with €100+ per month and over the course of a year, the average spend on parent financial support has increased from to €2,172.

There are ways to reduce the financial burden such as limiting the use of public transport, and indeed if a third level student has a part time job, that will certainly help.

When it comes to financing their children through college, nearly half of parents use savings to pay for their children's college education.

In third level, 81% of parents find covering the cost of this level of education a financial burden. While the figures for parents getting into debt for primary and secondary school are much lower, when it comes to funding university students, over 50% of parent find that they do get into some level of debt to cover the costs.

One measure families can take to help avoid putting their households under severe financial pressure, or pushing them into debt, is to ensure early planning around their children's education, adopting measures such as early life savings schemes.

It's clear to see that the cost of education is high and increases over the years. So, wouldn't it make sense to plan ahead and build up your savings year-on-year?.

With an Easy Access Savings Plan from Zurich Life you can gradually build up the funds necessary to support your children's education.

The table above illustrates just how much regular savings can grow with a Zurich Easy Access Savings plan. For example, if you saved the Government child benefit of €140 per month for five years (as of June 2018) from when your child was born, by the time they started school you could have built up savings of €8,705 in time to fund this crucial stage in their education.

Cost of College Education Calculator

Use Zurich's Cost of College Education Calculator to work out the estimated costs of sending your children to college and to see how much you might need to save each month to meet these college costs.

To find out how Zurich Life can help you
save for your children’s education and future,
visit or call 1850 804 164.

*Source: Zurich Cost of Education Survey 2018