The Cost of College Education in Ireland

If you're planning to support your children when they reach university, it might be wise to start saving now. The Zurich Cost of Education Survey 2017 reveals the staggering costs for college students living at home and in rented or student accommodation. Want to win an ipad and your back to school shopping list? Click here to enter our competition.

An infographic illustrating the cost of third level education in Ireland An infographic illustrating the cost of third level education in Ireland

Source: Zurich Cost of Education Survey 2017

While the average cost of sending a child to primary school may seem excessive and worse still when it comes to the rising cost of secondary school, 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 2017-2018 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 2017 found that when it comes to third level, unsurprisingly accommodation represents a substantial average annual cost. The average annual cost for a student renting accommodation is €3,866, and a marginally cheaper alternative is student accommodation, which costs around €2,628*.

Of those in rented accommodation, 26% pay €6000+ per academic year. Given the cost of accommodation it's not surprising to learn that 60% of third level students currently live at home. But living at home might not be an option, depending on the desired course and college location.

Over 80% of parents who took part in the Zurich Cost of Education Survey 2017 research study said that they support their children financially outside of rent, transport and college fees. Over the course of an academic college year, the average spend on financial support was €2,016.

The Zurich Cost of Education Survey 2017 heard from parents nationwide and nearly half (46%) said they use savings to pay for their children's education with 39% using their monthly income.

More than two thirds (69%) of parents said that their children have a job as well as attending college, which is understandable given the mounting cost of college. Although university students may be able to help out by undertaking some part-time work, given the increase in the cost of living it's unlikely they will be able to contribute in any significant way.

The Cost of Third Level Education
Item Estimated Cost
Rented accommodation €3,866
Fees €2,066
Student accommodation €2,628
Transport €258
Financial assistance €2,016
Annual Cost
With rented accommodation €8,206
With Student accommodation €6,968
Living at home €4,340
Lifetime Cost
With rented accommodation €32,824
With Student accommodation €27,872
Living at home €17,360

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. 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.

However, only 25% of parents surveyed for this research into the Cost of Education in Ireland feel Irish third level establishments do enough to help them to keep the costs of their children's college education down. Nearly half of parents of third level students use savings to pay for their children's college education with 39% using their monthly income.

In third level, 73% 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 get into 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. Of those surveyed for the Cost of Education report two thirds (66%) of parents have or plan to set up a savings account for their children.

Something to think about...

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 a Zurich Easy Access Savings plan you can gradually build up the funds necessary to support your children's education.

The table below 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 January 2017) from when your child was born, by the time they started school you could have built up savings of €8,832 in time to fund this crucial stage in their education.

*Source: Zurich Cost of Education Survey 2017

Savings fund after five years starting primary school Savings fund after 12 years starting primary school
Regular contributions of €140 per month* €8,832 €22,564
Lump sum of €10,000 and regular contributions of €140 per month* €19,700 €34,865
A gross investment return of 4.2% per annum is assumed, partial encashment, assignment, death or on each 8th anniversary of the policy tax is deducted on gains made. The figures shown allow for the deduction of tax (currently 41%). Saving amounts are after the deduction of the Government Insurance Levy (currently 1% as at July 2017 and may change in the future). No surrender penalties apply. An annual management charge of 1.25% and an allocation rate of 101% apply. The information contained herein is based on Zurich Life's understanding of current Revenue practice as of July 2017 and may change in the future.




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Let Zurich Life help you with your Back to School strain this September. Answer one question and submit your details below to be entered into our draw to win an iPad and everything on our Back to School shopping list. Terms and Conditions apply.

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Back to School Shopping List Terms and Conditions - (August 2017).

Terms and Conditions
  1. The promoter is Zurich Life Assurance plc ("Zurich Life") whose registered office is at Zurich House, Frascati Road, Blackrock, Co. Dublin.
  2. The competition is open to residents of the Republic of Ireland aged 18 years or over except employees of Zurich Life and Zurich Insurance Group and their close relatives and anyone otherwise connected with the organisation or judging of the competition.
  3. There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition.
  4. By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.
  5. Closing date for entry will be 22nd September. After this date, no further entries to the competition will be permitted. The draw will take place on 26th September 2017.
  6. The winner will be the first name drawn at random who has correctly answered the question on the entry form.
  7. Only one entry will be accepted per person. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified.
  8. No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason.
  9. The prize is €350 in One4All vouchers plus an iPad 128gb valued at €519. The prize is as stated and no cash or other alternatives will be offered. The prizes are not transferable. Prizes are subject to availability and we reserve the right to substitute any prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice.
  10. Zurich Life reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice. Any changes to the competition will be notified to entrants as soon as possible by the promoter.
  11. The winner will be notified within 14 days of the draw having taken place. If the winner cannot be contacted or does not claim the prize within 14 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner.
  12. Zurich Life will notify the winner when and where the prize can be collected / will be delivered.
  13. Zurich Life's decision in respect of all matters to do with the competition will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  14. The competition and these terms and conditions will be governed by Irish law and any disputes will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of the Republic of Ireland.
  15. The winner agrees to the use of his/her name and image in any publicity material. Any personal data relating to the winner or any other entrants will be used solely in accordance with current Irish data protection legislation and will not be disclosed to a third party without the entrant's prior consent.
  16. The name of the winner will be published on www.zurichlife.ie on the Education Costs page.
  17. Zurich Life will use your details to contact you with information on Zurich products and services where consent has been given.

Back to school memories

We are also running a competition on Facebook where entrants are invited to post the price they paid for some famous Irish items when they were in school. Go to www.facebook.com/ZurichLifeIreland to enter.

Social Media Terms and Conditions - (August 2017).

Terms and Conditions
  1. The promoter is Zurich Life Assurance plc whose registered office is at Zurich House, Frascati Road, Blackrock, Co. Dublin.
  2. The competition is open to residents of the Republic of Ireland aged 18 years or over except employees of Zurich Life or Zurich Insurance Group and their close relatives and anyone otherwise connected with the organisation or judging of the competition.
  3. There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition.
  4. By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.
  5. Only one entry will be accepted per person. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified.
  6. Closing date for entry will be 22nd September. After this date the no further entries to the competition will be permitted.
  7. No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason.
  8. Route to entry for the competition and details of how to enter are as follows: on www.zurichlife.ie entrants will add a comment to the Cost of Education competition post on the Zurich Life Facebook page, sharing the cost of famous items from their schooldays.
  9. Zurich Life reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice. Any changes to the competition will be notified to entrants as soon as possible by the promoter.
  10. Zurich Life is not responsible for inaccurate prize details supplied to any entrant by any third party connected with this competition.
  11. The prize is €350 in One4All vouchers plus an iPad 128gb valued at €519. The prize is as stated and no cash or other alternatives will be offered. The prizes are not transferable. Prizes are subject to availability and we reserve the right to substitute any prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice.
  12. Zurich Life will judge the competition and decide on the best answer from all complete entries via Facebook.
  13. The winner will be notified by direct message (DM) on Facebook within 14 days of the closing date. If the winner cannot be contacted or does not claim the prize within 14 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner.
  14. Zurich Life will notify the winner when and where the prize can be collected / will be delivered.
  15. Zurich Life's decision in respect of all matters to do with the competition will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  16. The competition and these terms and conditions will be governed by Irish law and any disputes will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of the Republic of Ireland.
  17. The winner agrees to the use of his/her name and image in any publicity material, as well as their entry including any photographs or images shared. Any personal data relating to the winner or any other entrants will be used solely in accordance with current Irish data protection legislation and will not be disclosed to a third party without the entrant's prior consent.
  18. Once chosen, the winner's name will be published in a post on our Facebook page. The winner's name will also be available 28 days after closing date by emailing the following address: social.media@zurich.ie.
  19. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook or any other Social Network. You are providing your information to Zurich Life and not to any other party.
Warning: The value of your investment may go down as well as up.
Warning: If you invest in this product you may lose some or all of the money you invest.
Warning: These figures are estimates only. They are not a reliable guide to the future performance of your investment.
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