The Cost of Education in Ireland

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.

Education in Ireland is supposed to be free, but each year back-to-school costs are rising for families. The cost of putting just one child through school can easily run into tens of thousands of euro. If you have two or more children then you're going to have to dig even deeper to sustain the cost of their educational needs over the long-term.

Latest research has revealed the cost of educating your children in Ireland, and here's a breakdown of what you can expect to spend throughout your child's school and college years.

The Cost of Primary School Education

It all starts here; your child's first days at school are a big milestone. Their first day at school is also your first day of many years of (very worthwhile) expense and investment.

The average cost of sending a child to primary school each year is €473, with uniforms and books the most substantial expenses. Capitation grants paid to primary and post primary schools have been reduced in recent years and parents have seen this reflected in the increased voluntary contributions they are asked to pay, now €125 on average in primary schools. The total cost of 8 years' primary school education comes in at an estimated €3,780.

The Cost of Primary School Education
Item Estimated Cost
Clothing €100
Voluntary Contribution €125
Shoes €47.50
Books €100
Transport €100
Annual Cost €473
Lifetime Cost €3,780
The cost to send a child through 8 years of primary school in Ireland.

The Cost of Secondary School Education

The cost of education gets even higher as your child moves into secondary school. The average annual cost of education for a child entering first year is €1,040. School books and transport are among the most sizeable expenses.

The move to secondary school also brings a greater number of 'other' expenses such as lunch money, sports gear, school trips and class essentials like ingredients for Home Economics or T-Squares for Technical Graphics.

If we allow for the fact that the bulk of school books will be bought in first and fifth year in the build-up to junior cert and leaving cert cycles respectively, the total cost of six years' secondary school education, extra expenses excluded is estimated to be €5,040.

The Cost of Secondary School Education
Item Estimated Cost
Clothing €200
Voluntary Contribution €125
Shoes €65.00
Books €300
Transport €350
Annual Cost €1,040
Lifetime Cost €5,040
The cost of secondary school education for children in Ireland.

The Cost of Third-Level Education

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 expense associated with third-level education is in a completely different ballpark. All 'free-fees' third level institutions charge a mandatory student contribution of €3,000 per year and 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. Although third-level 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 College Education
(Living At Home)
Item Estimated Cost
Registration Fee €3,000
Utilities €306
Travel €1,215
Books €495
Annual Cost €5,016
Lifetime Cost €14,016
(Living Away)
Item Estimated Cost
Registration Fee €3,000
Food €1,548
Accomodation €3,087
Books €630
Annual Cost €8,265
Lifetime Cost €31,170
The cost of third level education in Ireland continues to rise.

Given these figures, we estimate the minimum cost of education for children in Ireland from primary school to college graduation is €40,000*.

*Source Zurich Life based on data published in 2015/16

Don't leave it too late to plan

Parents in Ireland know all too well that the promise of "free" education seldom comes without financial outlay in one form or another. The problem is that many parents get to grips with the costs when it's too late and end up having to fund everything out of day-to-day expenditure.

Remember, the mortgage and other utility bills you have today will still have to be paid when your child starts school in September. The only difference is you will be expected to manage those household costs on top of your child's education.

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 an Easy Access Savings Plan from Zurich Life 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 Life Easy Access Savings plan. For example, if you saved the Government child benefit of €140 per month for five years (as of January 2016) from when your child was born, by the time they started school you could have built up savings of €9,277 in time to fund this crucial stage in their education.

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Use our budget calculator to see what your monthly income and expenses are. This handy tool will give you an idea of how much money you have available to save.

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