Almost 75% of parents are ‘really struggling’ to cover college costs

Families save for average of eight years to put child through third level, new survey shows

Students living outside the home will spend an average of €1,033 a month compared with an average monthly spend of €474 for those living at home. Photograph: Thinkstock

Students living outside the home will spend an average of €1,033 a month compared with an average monthly spend of €474 for those living at home. Photograph: Thinkstock

 

The number of parents who say they will have to support college-going children next year has risen sharply, according to a new survey.

Some 94 per cent of parents say they will be supporting their children financially through college next year, up 20 points on last year. The average monthly parental contribution is €453, according to the Irish League of Credit Unions survey.

The survey also found that parents save for an average of eight years to put a child through college, with 72 per cent telling researchers they were “really struggling” to cover the cost of third-level education.

Just under 60 per cent of parents will get into debt to cover college costs, with €5,030 the average amount borrowed per child per year.

Some 41 per cent of parents said covering the cost of accommodation was particularly stressful, which might explain why 62 per cent of students will live at home next year compared to just 44 per cent in 2013.

Bright future

Some 70 per cent of students work throughout the academic year to fund their third-level education, with the average number of hours worked per week put at 26.

Apart from the costs, there is some good news for students, with the number who say they are “looking forward to a bright future in Ireland after they finish third-level education” increasing from just 28 per cent in 2013 to 64 per cent today.

A more significant 79 per cent of students believe they will be able to find a job in Ireland after college, up from just over 50 per cent two years ago.

When asked why they chose a course, interest in the subject was the number one reason, with 37 per cent saying it was the primary reason they picked a certain course.

A further 24 per cent said they chose a course because of the future employment prospects it offered, while 17 per cent said a key motivator was the location of the course.

“The significant cost of third-level education puts phenomenal pressure on both parents and students starting or returning to third-level education,” said ILCU chief executive Ed Farrell. “The increased registration fees combined with monthly rent and bills, books and materials and day-to-day expenses are a significant financial burden to many families.”