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Parents provide €421 per month on average to their college-going child

Students spend the money on rent, bills, food, books and going out.

Image: Phoxx84 via Flickr/Creative Commons

THE LATEST IRISH League of Credit Unions survey on the cost of third-level education has found that parents spend an average of €421 every month on their college-going child.

Excluding rent and bills, students are spending €516 each month on their daily expenses, an increase of €32 in two years.

The vast majority of parents support their adult children’s college-related costs, with about 42 per cent using their savings to do so. One quarter, however, borrow from their local credit union, 6 per cent will use a credit card, 4 per cent a bank loan and 2 per cent turned to a moneylender.

Those parents who use their savings to fund their child’s third level education have been preparing for the costs for an average of eight years but in 71 per cent of households, the family budget has been adversely impacted by the increased registration fees.

As families struggle with increased expenses, fewer students are living away from the family home in order to lessen the impact. The figure has dropped from 49 per cent in 2011 to 32 per cent currently.

Two-thirds of student now have to work to fund college, an increase from 55 per cent in 2011.

As the recession and employment crisis continues, many students are looking beyond their courses but 57 per cent believe that they will have to emigrate to find work.

Not being able to secure a job after completing a qualification or degree continues to be parents’ greatest worry about their children. Money issues are the second most pronounced worry among a third of all parents. There are also concerns about the more social aspects of going to college – 10 per cent voiced worries over the misuse of drugs and alcohol, 4 per cent mentioned their children being lonely and homesick and two per cent fret over missed lectures.

What do students spend their money on?

The average rent costs for the 32 per cent of students living away from home during the college year land at €343 per month, while the household bills are about €91 per month.

Apart from rent and bills, food is the most expensive element of student living with an average of €182 is spent each month. Just under €100 is spent on travel, while €82 goes towards books every month.

Expenses associated with socialising and going out have seen a significant drop from €90 in 2011 to €67 in 2013. There were a number of differences between what male and female students spend their money on.

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Male students have a greater budget for socialising, going out and mobile phones, while females are spending more on clothes per month.

The impact of the bust?

While only 17 per cent chose their college course based on future job prospects, as many as 53 per cent would now choose their college course based on the current employment gaps in the economy rather than on their interest.

Males are more inclined (63 per cent) to choose their future course based on job opportunities compared to their female counterparts (48 per cent). University reputation (10 per cent) and cost (6 per cent) continue to play a role amongst Irish students when choosing a course.

There has been an improvement in students’ sentiment towards job opportunities at home compared to the 2011 findings. Just over half expect to find work in Ireland. Female students show greater confidence (57 per cent) in securing a job in Ireland  – an improvement on two years ago (28 per cent).

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