60% of Parents Get into Debt Funding Third Level Education

The Irish League of Credit Unions has launched the results of the 2016 Cost of Third Level Education Study which surveyed 1,000 Irish adults over the age of 18 with Marketing Research Company iReach. The research found that 60% of parents get into debt funding third level education; 73% of parents really struggle tocover the cost of their child’s third level education; and 62% of family budgets have been adversely affected by the third level registration fee.

“The survey reflects what we’ve been saying time and time again.” Annie Hoey, USI President, said. “Third level education is causing a huge financial strain on young people and families. Almost two third of family budgets have been adversely affected by the third level registration fee – which, at €3,000, is the second highest in Europe. USI research conducted in June shows that 58% of students miss meals, 39% go hungry and 34% go without heat. The research released this morning from the Irish league of Credit Unions shows that families are also feeling the pinch. Publicly-funded education benefits everyone, including families, not just those receiving the education.”

According to the research, 87% of parents are supporting their children financially through college, contributing €447 per month per child to cover costs of college. Worryingly, 4% of parents say they will approach a moneylender to cover third level costs. USI said this reflects how desperate families are to send their children to third level education because they know it provides the key to a brighter future for them.

Hoey said if the government reduces the registration fees and increases student support (which is recommended by the Cassells report), it will help young people and families across Ireland, as well as strengthen the workforce by education and up-skilling, which will in turn strengthen the economy and allow people to pay higher taxes, returning more to the system.

“It’s a no brainer.” Hoey said. “It’s a win-win. If politicians prioritise education, they will have a better, stronger workforce able to earn more, in higher tax brackets; and they will also gain the support of the people who vote them in. Prioritising education is prioritising the needs of the people.”

Further survey results:

  • Parents are saving for an average of 8 years for third level costs, saving on average €8,150
  • 73% of parents really struggle to cover the cost of their child’s third level education
  • 62% of family budgets have been adversely affected by the third level registration fee (marginal fall from 64% in 2015)
  • 67% of students are extremely worried about finding suitable accommodation for the academic year
  • 65% of students living at home compared to 62% in 2015, paying average of €376 on average in rent
  • Students living outside the home spending €1,048 euro per month, those living at home spending €530 per month
  • 68% students work throughout the academic year to fund third level education, working on average 17 hours per week

Full answer responses to USI research conducted in June 2016:


Which of the following things, if any, have you had to do to stay in college?

878 responses

  • Borrowing money off friends/ family – 77.1%
  • Missing meals – 58.1%
  • Going hungry – 38.7%
  • Going without heat – 34.2%
  • Going to the Students’ Union/ Saint Vincent de Paul/ food bank for food – 25.4%
  • Other – 9.2%
  • Going without electricity – 8.5%
  • Going without water – 4.2%



What is the main way you pay for college?

  • Grants – 41.8%
  • My parents – 27.2%
  • My job – 16.0%
  • Loans – 6.5%
  • Life Savings – 4.4%
  • Other – 4.1%


Note: population of USI members: 354,000

Survey confidence level: 95%

Survey margin for error: 3.4%


Comments are closed.