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Family spending cut in bid to meet education costs

Half of parents are set to cut spending on family clothing and other goods to cope with the massive expense of getting their children through college.

A third of families will also slash what they spend on food and groceries.

A majority of families expect to get into debt to cover the cost of third-level education.

Average borrowings are expected to be just short of €2,500 per child a year, a new survey from the Irish League of Credit Unions shows.

It found it costs twice as much for students to live away from home.

Large numbers of students are taking up jobs in an effort to fund their expenses and many are being forced into skipping lectures to go to work.

Nine in 10 parents are helping to fund their child’s education, according to the credit unions, but a majority say they are struggling to meet the costs.

Some estimates put the cost of putting a child through college at up to €15,000 a year, with accommodation, registration fees, travel, books, food and utilities among the big outlays.

Students are struggling too, with seven out of 10 finding it difficult to support themselves. This is up from last year, according to the survey conducted by i-Reach Insights among 2,300 people.

Students living away from their parents’ home spend about €1,229 a month, compared with €667 for those who live at home.

Parents who help fund their child’s education estimate they pay €584 a month during the college term.

This has increased from the average €535 monthly contribution last year.

The numbers saying they are paying more than €1,000 a month have almost doubled since last year. Almost four in 10 say their child receives a grant for college, but most say the grant is insufficient.

Close to half of parents who fund their child’s third-level education say they will have to cut spending on clothing or goods for other children in the family to cope with costs.

Almost a third will sacrifice spending on food and groceries, and three-quarters will slash the amount spent on holidays. A quarter say they will reduce spending on household bills.

Money issues remain the biggest concern for all parents of college students.

This has increased in importance since last year when a third said finance was their biggest college-related concern.

Much smaller numbers say their biggest worry is that their child won’t get a job after college, while one in eight are mostly concerned about misuse of alcohol and drugs.

More than half of all parents say they are stressed about paying for accommodation during the college term.

Research last week showed rents have surged to a new record high, with the average cost in Dublin now more than €1,000, and costs jumping by up to 20pc in some areas.

Six in 10 parents expect to get into debt funding their child’s third-level education, and they reckon that the debt accrued will be more than €2,400 per child a year.

There has been an increase in the overall numbers approaching moneylenders.

Some 8pc of all parents responding to the survey say they have approached a moneylender, compared with 3pc last year.

Head of marketing and communications at the Irish League of Credit Union Paul Bailey told parents their local credit union provides education loans at far more reasonable rates.

Irish Independent

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