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.

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.
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.
Warning: This product may be affected by changes in currency exchange rates.

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