While rising rents and travel costs are also contributing to a slight overall increase on the past college year, changes in drinking patterns have moderated the likely extra expenses for the year ahead.
The Dublin Institute of Technology Campus Life cost-of-living guide estimates rents outside Dublin at €325 a month, up 6% on last year.
But a 12% rise is shown for the cost of a room in the capital — up from €372 a year ago to €418, and heading back towards peak 2007 levels.
However, the €2,925 expected average for students’ rent is surpassed by the student charge payable this year by more than half of undergraduate students who do not qualify for a grant.
It is going up another €250 this autumn to €3,000 in the last of a series of increases over four years.
The costs of food, books, phone, and other bills are unchanged from last year, but travel expenses for students living away from home face a 13% hike to an average of €135 a month.
This is offset, however, by a significant drop in DIT Campus Life’s estimate of spending on social life and other miscellaneous expenses. It bases the fall in monthly spending from €132 to €74 on results of student surveys and attributes it to a number of factors.
“Fewer students have part-time work and therefore have less money to spend. Secondly, drinking patterns have changed and rather than going out, students are buying cheaper alcohol in supermarkets and drinking at home,” DIT Campus Life manager, Brian Gormley said.
“There are some positive trends too, as Irish students seem to be drinking less. There has also been a significant drop in the number of students who smoke, which also saves them money,” he said.
The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is urging home owners to avail of the tax-free earnings available by renting spare rooms to students, as part of an effort to ease difficulties facing those looking for accommodation.
It has updated a free website aimed at matching students to owner-occupiers, who can earn €12,000 without paying tax if they let rooms in their homes.
But USI president Kevin Donoghue said the accommodation problem facing students is likely to become a general election issue.
“The under-provision of accommodation in major towns needs to be addressed urgently by the Government. Long term, the solution, is more purpose-built student accommodation,” he said.
Mr Gormley said digs-style accommodation — in which families offer meals and a room to students — should be considered by those on a tight budget.
“This can cut rent costs dramatically and may be cheaper than distance commuting every day. Staying in digs for first year can give students time to get to know a group of friends to share a house in second year,” he said.
For those who do not qualify for a grant, he recommend checking other funding sources when budgeting at the studentfinance.ie website. Mr Gormley also suggested students consider cycling to save on public transport or parking fees.