Third-level costs a worry for most parents

ALMOST half of parents save part of their monthly children’s allowance payment to cover future education costs, a survey has found.

The results also reveal that over three-quarters of parents worry about the costs of third-level education for their children.

The most recent estimates put the annual cost of putting a student through college for a year away from home at almost €7,250, and more than €3,000 for those who live at home while attending college.

According to the survey, carried out by market research company Behaviour & Attitudes, figures like these are a cause of concern for 78% of the respondents. They asked more than 400 parents with children aged 21 or younger living at home about education costs.

With the expense of uniforms, books, other clothes and school costs now reaching up to €1,350 for a second-level student, it may not be surprising that 62% of parents save regularly for their children’s education.

Just over half of the parents surveyed said they use the monthly child benefit payment — €150 for each of the first two children in a family — to save, while 87% of those people said they saved some of their allowance specifically for their children’s education.

The survey was carried out for Irish Life, whose savings product manager Roisin Walsh said the key to funding third-level education is to plan as early as possible by saving when a child is young.

“While most parents don’t have to meet the cost of school or college fees, there are still significant costs such as accommodation, food, and books as well as hidden costs such as registration and exams fees,” she said.

Recent figures from the Department of Social and Family Affairs showed that a record 79,000-plus families received its Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance last year. But thousands more households on low incomes or which receive regular welfare payments are eligible but do not apply for the allowance.

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