Happily, having been lucky to enough to have a lovely sunny Sunday, we had a barbeque and during the course of the afternoon, somehow the conversation turned to the cost of sending a child to third level education. Due purely to the totally varying opinions of the cost of sending each child to college, a lot of the gang present (many of whom had their little one’s running around behind them at the time), got involved in the discussion.

While I have blogged about this before, I thought it might be good to recap as I was very surprised to see such hugh differences in opinion on the actual cost.

So what is the cost?

The Dublin Institute of Technology prepare a Guide every year for students to inform them of the cost of their third level education.

The Irish Times published an article last week, 12th July, highlighting the findings of this Report and the general issues around the cost of third level education. They noted that according to the annual DIT survey, due to rising rents and other living costs, the cost of going to college for students living away from home will reach about €11,000 this year, according to latest estimates.

The Dublin Institute of Technology’s annual cost-of-living guide shows that rent is now the single biggest cost for students living away from home. For students who live at home, the estimated annual cost of colleges this year will reach just over €6,800. The bulk of this cost includes the €3,000 student registration charges.

The Irish Times article reported that these estimates come in the same week as the publication of a major report into the future funding of the higher education system, which found the system of grant support was not enough to cover the cost of college.

The article went on to quote Brian Gormley, head of campus life in DIT, who confirmed that the past five years have seen a deterioration in the financial situation of students. In 2009, 45 per cent of undergraduates were satisfied with their financial situation. This dropped to 33 per cent in 2013. However, more than 50 per cent of students reported in 2013 that they were in financial difficulty.

While rental costs are just below their 2007 peak, they are projected to reach those levels next year if current trends continue.

The next biggest overall cost is the student registration charge (€3,000), along with the cost of food (€1,548) and travel (€1,214).

Mr Gormley said a 10-year review of costs-of-living trends shows that expenditure on some key areas – social life and smoking – have decreased.

In the last academic year, Susi processed a record 108,000 applications, with in excess of 83,000 students awarded grants. It is expected that the number of applications for the upcoming academic year will exceed 110,000.

Our friends & family at the barbeque guessed any sum from about €5,000 a year to €15,000 (per child) a year which would mean there would be a large differential in what each family would target to save for.

If we assume the DIT figure of €11,000 a year, over a 4 year period (a typical Degree programme), that equates to €44,000 per child. Add 2/3 children to the mix and you are looking at a fund of €88,000/€132,000 to save towards. These figures are of course based on average college fees applicable presently and these may change in the future.

So what can we do? The best advice is to start an Education Saver and as early as it is affordable to you. The early years can be expensive particularly with full time child care to pay for if both parents work away from home. But we would urge anyone with young children to save as much as they can from as early on as they can. There are many different savings options. As it is a long term savings plan, we would recommend a diversified approach with a mix of equities, bonds and deposits. Over the long term equities have been proven to outperform deposits.

If you require any advice in this regard, please contact us at 053 9233640.