College doesn’t come cheap and parents are really feeling the financial pressure of putting their children through university or college. For some people, the cost is a limiting factor that prevents them from achieving a third-level education.

According to Zurich’s report on the cost of education in Ireland, the average annual cost of third-level education is:

  • In student accommodation: €15,154 annually with a lifetime cost of €60,616.
  • In rented accommodation: €15,327 annually, with a lifetime cost of €61,308.
  • Living at home: €7,636 annually, with a lifetime cost of €30,000.
  • Get ahead of the financial pressures of college costs by availing of any scholarships, grants, and bursaries you might qualify for. College help centres are great for providing advice and assistance in this regard.

    Financial support for college students

    The good news is that in Budget 2023, a once-off contribution of €1,000 towards the student contribution was announced. This reduces the amount payable by free fees-eligible students to their institution from €3,000 to

    €2,000 in the academic year 2022 to


    If you are paying for private rented accommodation, you can claim a new rent tax credit of €500 a year for 2022 and the subsequent years, which was also announced in Budget 2023.

    Student Universal Support Ireland student grants

    The main financial support available for eligible students attending full-time further and higher education courses is the student grant, which may include a maintenance grant and/or a fee grant, depending on eligibility. The means-tested Student Grant Scheme is administered by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) on behalf of the department.

    The SUSI grant rate that you get depends on the following factors:

  • Your assessed means.
  • The distance you normally live from the college you are going to attend.
  • If you are a disadvantaged student.
  • From January 2023, you could receive from €556 band 4 adjacent2, up to €6,971 special rate not adjacent, depending on the band rate you are assessed under.

    The closing date for grant applications for the 2022/2023 academic year has passed. There is currently no open date for the 2023/2024 applications, but keep an eye on for updates on the next academic year (previously springtime).

    Student Assistance Fund

    The Student Assistance Fund (SAF) provides financial support to full-time or part-time students in higher education who are experiencing financial difficulties.

    To qualify for the SAF, you must be a full-time or part-time student in a university, institute of technology or other approved college. You must be on a course leading to a higher education award (National Framework of Qualifications level 6-10). For more information, visit the Higher Education Authority website

    Fund for students with Disabilities

    The Fund for Students with Disabilities (FSD) ensures eligible students have the necessary help and equipment so that they can participate on an equal basis with other students. Supports covered under the FSD can include:

  • Assistive technology equipment and software (including student training).
  • Non-medical helpers (eg personal assistants, notetakers).
  • Academic/learning support.
  • Deaf supports (sign language interpreters, speedtext).
  • Transport support.
  • You may be entitled to support under the FSD even if you did not access college through the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE scheme). To qualify for the FSD, you must fulfil a number of conditions, which are listed on the website.

    1916 Bursary Fund

    The 1916 Bursary is a financial award to encourage the participation and success of students from sections of society that are significantly under-represented in higher education.

    The 1916 Bursary is funded by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (DFHERIS). To be eligible for a 1916 Bursary, all applicants must meet financial, priority group and college entry criteria. Students should check their eligibility for this fund once they start their course by using the criteria quick check at

    Advice for students

    It is important to become somewhat financially independent from your parent(s) or guardian(s) before starting college. You don’t necessarily need to support yourself fully, but it is important to start learning how to budget your money and live within your means, ie choosing to spend money on food, transport, and bills instead of clothes, nights out or unnecessary items.

    It is important to plan ahead and start thinking about how to fund your college education.

  • Will you need to take out a loan?
  • Will you have to get a part-time or summer job?
  • How much money a week will you need for spending in college?
  • What is the price of your accommodation and who is paying for it; you or your parents?
  • Are certain courses you want off the table because the accommodation is too expensive?
  • Is there a similar course in a college close to your home house so you can commute, making it more affordable?
  • These are all important questions to ask yourself while applying for your CAO.

    Advice for parents

    For parents, the most important thing is to discuss your financial position with your son/daughter who will be attending third-level education.

    Have an honest and open conversation about your options. How much can you support them financially without putting yourself or the wider family into debt? Look into all funding options and come up with a plan or budget of how you and your son/daughter will afford third-level education, if it can be afforded.

    It might be a question of who will take out the loan? Do they need to get a part-time or summer job? Are their conditions like passing exams etc that need to be put in place?

    Student Loans

    Whether it’s to pay for accommodation, travel, living expenses or general back-to-college expenses, most banks in Ireland provide student loans, current accounts and credit cards. If you don’t yet have your own bank account or credit card, consider getting one set up straight away. It is a great time to start being in control of your personal finances.

    Try not to get into too much college debt. Taking out a loan is fine if you need to, but make sure you are able to pay it back.

    Most college courses are three to four years long. It is important to have a plan in place of how you are going to repay your loan. Summer jobs and part-time work are a great idea for college students as you get over three months off.

    Most bank loans will require full-time or part-time students looking to take out a loan to have a “guarantor”, ie a parent or guardian to guarantee the loan will be paid back.

    AIB allows customers with a student plus account to borrow between €600 and €50,000, with loan terms from one to five years. Their student loan interest rates are at 8.15% and 8.45% annual percentage rate (APR).

    If you hold a Bank of Ireland student account, you can take out a loan of anything from €500-€5,000 with an Annual Percentage Rate of Charge (APRC) at 5.0%. You can pay back the loan with weekly or monthly payments over a term of one to five years.

    According to the permanent TSB website, they offer personal loans online from €1,500 up to €25,000 with a maximum variable APR [rate and repayments can go up or down during the term of your loan] of 14.3%.

    Credit Unions also offer student loans and can be a great provider if you have a long-standing account with them.

    They have a student loan calculator on their website, which provides you with the option to choose a loan amount and duration. It then calculates the APR rate along with payment amounts.


    (Taken from the credit union student loan calculator)

    If I wanted to take put a loan for €3,000 over a one-year period.

    Average loan interest rate: 7.1% APR

    Monthly repayments: €259.72

    Total interest to be paid:€116.62

    Total amount repayable: €3,116.62

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