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The next step: Charts show financial strain Irish parents face as their child goes to college

It’s more saving and more debt.

Image: Shutterstock/Maridav

Updated at midday

A DAY AFTER the Leaving Cert results were released and ahead of next week’s first round third-level offers, parents and students are weighing up the cost of going to college.

New research from the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) has now shown how parents are being forced to save more and, in most cases, go into debt.

The stats show that 59% of parents go into debt to cover college costs with €5,030 the average debt per child. The research shows that parents contribute an average of €453 per child per month, up on last year.

But where is this funding coming from?

Figures from ICLU the show that the number of parents who have got a credit union loan to cover costs has trebled over the last four years.

graph 1 source Source: TheJournal.ie

The above graph demonstrates that the number of parents who use savings to pay for third-level costs has remained relatively constant over the past four years.

Drilling down into the figures though, it’s clear that these savings are harder to come by. For example, the percentage of parents who’ve saved for college costs for 5-6 years has jumped from 12% to 20% since 2011.

In fact, the biggest proportion of parents who answered the survey say that they had been saving for their children’s colleges costs for more than 15 years.

graph 2 savings Source: TheJournal.ie

Staying at home

The research also points out that the number of students living at home during their time in college has seen a noticeable spike in recent years. It’s now in the majority according to respondents to the ILCU.

In 2013, 44% of students were living at home with this jumping to 62% in 2015.

Speaking about the results of the survey, the ICLU’s Ed Farrell describes the cost of starting or returning to college as “phenomenal”.

“The increased registration fees combined with monthly rent and bills, books and materials and day to day expenses are a significant financial burden to many families, Farrell says.

Worryingly in this survey, 10% of parents will consider a moneylender to help cover the costs of their child or children’s college education, as always we would urge people to avoid this option.

When a child does go to college though, money worries continue to be an issue for parents.

In fact, parents’ concern for how their child will cope financially in college is their third greatest worry.

graph 3 parents worry Source: TheJournal.ie

Read: Here’s how students got on in the Leaving Cert >

Read: ‘I had to run and jump for one of those embarrassing photos’: Memories of Leaving Cert results day >

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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