Top tips: How to keep college costs down
From scholarships to weekly budgets, the following will help lower student fees
The cost of college can come as a shock to parents and students but there are ways to save money. Photograph: iStock
1: Look out for scholarships. There’s a useful list of scholarships available to undergraduate students at careersportal.ie/scholarships.
2: Elsewhere in today’s supplement, we look at how students attending schools in disadvantaged areas are eligible for additional supports through the Higher Education Access Route scheme (Hear).
3: If you’re 18 or under, don’t go for the student travel card – you’re still eligible for the child Leap Card until you turn 19 and this can be a significant saver, says Jennifer Farrell, head of student administration at TU Dublin. Cycling can also be a good way of getting in exercise and saving money on transport costs.
4: Ruth Killeen of Maynooth University says that it’s important for students to budget a plan for what they expect to spend. “Track what you are spending, review the plan and see how it needs to be amended. If the student is relying on parental support I recommend open, planned conversations started by the student to address the facts of their needs.”
5: Almost all colleges now have free medical and mental health services, so students can save money on GP and counselling fees.
6: Students are always advised to “shop around” for the best value on groceries but traipsing from shop to shop for the best value is a luxury that only people with cars and time can afford. But if you can make it to a Lidl or Aldi, you’ll find good value on fruit, vegetables and other basics. Dealz is good for the cut-price non-perishables. Takeaway coffees are among the little pleasures that make adulting worthwhile but they’re hard to sustain on a budget, so try and make your tea or coffee at home and bring it in a flask.
7: Get your books second-hand, on a loan scheme or, if you have a print disability which inhibits your ability to read, check out bookshare.ie, a new and free initiative from the National Council for the Blind of Ireland, supported by the Department of Education.
8: Students – or their parents who paid the fees – may be entitled to tax back on fees. Google search “claiming tax back on student fees Ireland” and follow the link on revenue.ie for more information.