How Best To Fund Your Children’s Education

1 September 2021

Parents with children returning to primary/secondary school after a long summer break may need to dig deep in order to pay for the essentials. The cost of books, stationery, uniforms, shoes, gym kits and trainers, plus lunch money, bus fares and potential contributions to school fees can put a major strain on the budget. However, this is nothing in comparison to the costs of higher-level education. So, have you considered the best way to save for your children’s education?

If you're planning to support your children when they reach university, it might be wise to start saving now. A 2021 Zurich Life Cost of Education Survey revealed the staggering costs for college students living at home and also those in rented or student accommodation.

All 'free-fees' third level institutions charge a mandatory student contribution, the maximum rate for 2021-2022 is €3,000 per year. Unfortunately, this student contribution is just one of the costs likely to be incurred. Add to this increasing travel expenses and the rising cost of rent for students living away from home, and the cost of putting your child through third level education can quickly add up.

The Zurich Life 2021 Cost of Education Survey found that when it comes to third level education, unsurprisingly, accommodation represents a substantial average annual cost. The average spend for student accommodation was found to be €8,375 but the cost of independent rental during the academic year isn't cheap either, averaging €5,931.

The total annual costs of third level education can range from €6,178 per annum for a student living at home and increasing to €8,375 for those in student accommodation. The lifetime cost will be considerably greater, given that this annual cost could be for anywhere from 3 to 7 or even 8 years depending on the course of study chosen.

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. However, a college education doesn't come cheap, and parents are really feeling the pressure of funding their children through university or college.

One measure you can take to help avoid putting the household under severe financial pressure, or pushing you into debt, is to ensure early planning around your children's education, adopting measures such as savings schemes started early in life.

Zurich Life has calculated that if you saved the Government child benefit of €140 per month for five years from when your child was born, by the time they started school you could have built up estimated savings of around €8,500. If you save the same regular contributions of €140 per month, after 12 years the estimated fund value could be in excess of €21,000. With traditional deposit accounts no longer paying you an interest rate, Life Assurance savings plans offer a real opportunity to reach your future goals.

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.

Robert Downes, QFA RPA is a Qualified Financial Advisor and Retirement Planning Advisor. You can contact him through John F. Loughrey Financial Services by telephone on 074-9124002 or by email on

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