The Cost of College Education in Ireland 2023

If you're planning to support your children when they reach university, it might be wise to start saving now. The Zurich Cost of Education Survey 2023* reveals the staggering costs for college students living at home and in rented or student accommodation.

While the average cost of sending a child to primary and secondary school might seem high, the expenses associated with third level education are in a completely different ballpark. All 'free-fees' third level institutions charge a mandatory student contribution the maximum rate for 2022-2023 is €3,000 per year. Unfortunately, this student contribution is just one of the costs likely to be incurred. Add to this the increase in travel expenses and the rising cost of rent for students living away from home, and you can see how quickly the cost of putting your child through third level education can add up.

The Zurich Cost of Education Survey 2023*found that when it comes to third level, unsurprisingly accommodation represents a substantial average annual cost.

Given the high cost for accommodation for students, its not surprising that in 2023, 68% of college students are living at home. The number of students living in rented accommodation has decreased to 15% and the number of college goers living in student accommodation has also remained low at 14%.

The average spend for student accommodation was €10,077 but the cost of rental during the academic year isn't cheap either, averaging €5,179.

Given the costs for accommodation, many students are opting to live at home while in college and 62% of third level parents say their children have to commute to college. The average commuting time for these students is 46 minutes, and the most common form of transport is the bus (45%). The most popular modes of transport to school for third level students is public transport (49%, +8% vs 2022) and by car (40%), when travelling to and from college. The average cost is €523 each year. 

The cost of third level education
Item Estimated Cost
Student accommodation €10,077
Rented accommodation  €5,179
Fees €3,391
Parents financial support
Annual Cost
With student accommodation €16,538
With rented accommodation €11,640
Living at home €6,461
Lifetime Cost
With student accommodation €66,152
With rented accommodation €46,560
Living at home €28,844

Building up funds

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 crucial. Our Cost of Education research clearly shows that college education doesn't come cheap and by the time a teenager reaches third level, parents are really feeling the pressure of funding their children through university or college.

While accommodation is the biggest financial drain for college students, other costs such as transport and living expenses can quickly add up. In addition, 73% of parents provide financial support to their children in third level and over the course of a year, the average spend on parent financial support is €2,547.

There are ways to reduce the financial burden such as limiting the use of public transport, and indeed if a third level student has a part time job, that will certainly help. In fact, 69% of parents said that their child has a job as well as attending college.

When it comes to financing their children through college, nearly half of parents use savings to pay for their children's college education.

In third level, parents find covering the cost of this level of education a financial burden. One measure families can take to help avoid putting their households under severe financial pressure, or pushing them into debt, is to ensure early planning around their children's education, adopting measures such as early life savings schemes.

*Source: Zurich Cost of Education Survey 2023

Something to think about...

It's clear to see that the cost of education is high and increases over the years. So, wouldn't it make sense to plan ahead and build up your savings year-on-year?

With a Regular Savings plan you can gradually build up the funds necessary to support your children's education.

The table below illustrates just how much regular savings can grow with a Zurich LifeSave Savings Plus plan. For example, if you saved the Government child benefit of €140 per month for five years (as of July 2023) from when your child was born, by the time they started school you could have built up savings of €8,784 in time to fund this crucial stage in their education.

Savings fund after five years starting primary school Savings fund after 12 years starting primary school
Regular contributions of €140 per month* €8,784
Lump sum of €10,000 and regular contributions of €140 per month* €19,749 €35,159

A gross investment return of 4.6% per annum is assumed for the 5 year savings fund and 4.6% per annum for the 12 year savings fund. We have assumed that on death, encashment, partial encashment or assignment of the policy or on each 8th policy anniversary, tax is deduced on the gains made at the current rate of taxation, being 41%. A government insurance levy (currently 1% as at July 2023 and may change in the future) applies to this policy. The contribution amounts above are inclusive of this levy. No surrender penalties apply. An annual management charge of 1.35% and an allocation rate of 101% apply. The information contained herein is based on Zurich Life's understanding of current Revenue practice as of July 2023 and may change in the 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.
Warning: If you invest in this product you may lose some or all of the money you invest.
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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