The Cost of Educating Our Children

7 September 2022

We are at the time of year again when primary and secondary schools are opening and older students are preparing to go to college. September is like a smaller version of January. It is a season in the year where it feels like a new start, we transition from summer into autumn and everybody is getting back into a routine.

It is also a good time of year to start financial planning and if you have children, it’s a great time to focus on their education. It can seem that education in Ireland is free; however unfortunately that is not the case. Each year the back-to-school costs are increasing and it can cost tens of thousands of euros for one child over the long term. According to research the average annual cost for a primary school child is €1,573, for a secondary school child it's €2,818 and for third level, the average annual cost is €15,154. This is a lifetime cost per child of almost €90,000. Parents are not expecting education to be this expensive and it can end up with people having to borrow money to meet these costs. 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.

While there is a Back-to-School Allowance, it is not available to everyone and the financial pressure to cover the costs of their children’s education can result in parents falling into debt. Recent research from Zurich Life found that almost one in three families now rely on loans to cover the cost of secondary school education.

The best way to prepare for the cost of your child’s education is to start saving on a regular basis, as early as possible. This is not an easy task right now given the cost-of-living crisis; however, you can start with a small amount every month. The earlier in their life you can start saving, even that small amount being put away every month will make a substantial difference to the costs you have to incur in later years.

The first step is to do a budget which you can either do on your own or use an online budgeting tool. There are various useful budgeting tools available online. Setting out a budget helps you build a clear picture of your spending habits and your expenses and you might find some areas where you can save money. If you have any short-term debts, such as credit cards, before you come up with a savings plan it is best to pay these off. After you have paid off any short-term debts you can then consider saving on a regular basis. The best way to do this is to set up a direct debit and to have the money coming out of your account just after you get paid. You can shop around to decide if a deposit-based savings product is best for you or if you have a longer period of time to save you can look at investing this money for much better future potential growth. Contact your local Financial Advisor and they will be able to help you decide what Savings Plan is best for you.

Marie Carr MSc BBS QFA RPA SIA is a Qualified Financial Advisor, Retirement Planning Advisor and a Specialist Investment Advisor. You can contact her through John F. Loughrey Financial Services by telephone on 074-9124002 or by email on

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