Whether your children are in primary, secondary or third level education, chances are you are underestimating the cost of sending them to school and college.

Counting the cost

Education in Ireland is supposed to be free, but each year back-to-school costs are rising for families. The cost of putting just one child through school can easily run into tens of thousands of euro. If you have two or more children then you're going to have to dig even deeper to sustain the cost of their educational needs over the long-term. Research carried out by Zurich on the Cost of Education in Ireland* reveals what parents estimate the cost of education to be and what the actual cost is. The research also highlights that expenses incurred for children in secondary school almost double that of primary and third level expenditure is triple that of secondary. When it comes to financing children’s education, the need for sacrifices follows the same upward trend – the higher the educational level, the higher the necessity for making sacrifices to cover education costs.

Education Tier Annual Cost Lifetime Cost
Primary School  €1,871


Secondary School   €3,581


College  €11,640


The cost of primary school education

Parents estimate that it costs €1,381 (up €725 compared to 2022) to keep their child in primary school education, per annum.* However the actual cost per year for primary education for one child is €1,871. The highest spend during a child’s primary school year is on transport (€338) and then after school activities (€283), followed by lunches (€237) and books (€222). 1 in 4 (25%) of primary school parents have taken out a loan to help pay for their child’s/ children’s primary school costs, up 15% from 2022.

The cost of secondary school education

Parents of secondary school children estimate they spend €2,531 on average per school year (up €1,050 compared with 2022). However, the actual cost per year for secondary education for one child is €3,581. Over 3 in 5 (63%) of parents feel pressurised to buy branded clothing, footwear and other items for their child/children in secondary school as opposed to generic or own brand goods (up 10% vs 2022). The highest spend items for parents with children in secondary school are grinds (€929), lunches (€452), books (€393) and transport (€352). Zurich's Cost of Education report also finds that in order to fund their children's education, 28% of parents have taken out a loan to help pay for their child’s/ children’s secondary school costs, and that is up 9% on last years figure.

The cost of college education

College doesn't come cheap and by the time a teenager reaches third level, parents are really feeling the cost of putting their children through university or college. Zurich's Cost of Education survey reveals the true cost of third level education in Ireland, and it's not surprising to learn that accommodation and college fees are the highest spend items during the college year. The cost of accommodation for the college year ranges from €5,000 to €10,000, depending if you are paying for rented or student accommodation. Parents are also providing financial support to their children by giving them €2,547 during the college year.

*Source: Zurich Cost of Education Survey 2023

Saving for education

A great education is the best possible start in life and for most parents ensuring they can provide for their children's education, from primary school right through to third level, is crucially important.  With a Regular Savings plan you can gradually build up the funds necessary to support your children's education and future.

Cost of education calculators

Our Cost of Secondary School Calculator is a tool that helps you work out how much you need to save to cover the costs of putting children through secondary school.

Cost of Secondary School Calculator

Use our Cost of College Education Calculator to work out the estimated costs of sending your children to college and to see how much you might need to save each month to meet these college costs.

Cost of College Education Calculator

Benchmark Tool

Use Zurich's Cost of Education benchmarking tool to see how education costs compare and pinpoint where savings could be made.

Benchmark Tool

Voice services

When it comes to planning your future, saving is a great place to start. Whatever your goals are, saving with Zurich is a smart move. Whether using Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, the Zurich Ireland voice services action offers you multiple savings calculators to help plan and save for the future.

Warning: The value of your investment may go down as well as up.
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Warning: These figures are estimates only. They are not a reliable guide to the future performance of your investment.
Warning: This product may be affected by changes in currency exchange rates.

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