Talking through the financial implications, as you judge appropriate for your family, is always helpful in working out a realistic budget for the months and years at college. Here are some pointers:
Colleges charge an annual student contribution commomly known as a registration fee which all students must pay*. It covers student services and exam fee costs.
The amount of the student contribution varies from one institution to another. The maximum rate of the student contribution for the academic year 2016-2017 was €3,000. This fee is not expected to increase for 2017/18.
Most undergraduate students attending publicly funded third-level courses do not have to pay tuition fees, as these come under the terms of the Free Fees Initiative. The tuition fees are paid directly to the college concerned by the Department of Education and Skills.
Charges for Post-Leaving Certificate courses (PLCs) operate under slightly different rules. Registration fees apply, but there are no fees for tuition. Students are liable for a €200 participation contribution, imposed on all PLC courses. The following categories of student are exempt from paying the contribution:
- Full current medical card holders in their own right and their dependent children.
- Those who are eligible under the student grant Scheme
- Those in receipt of the Back to Education Allowance or VTOS allowances.
Students must also cover the cost of the various student services - examination fees, insurance, registration charges, books, and where required - uniforms and specialised equipment. Private Colleges
Free fees do not apply to courses in private colleges. Private colleges charge the larger amount of full tuition fees. For exact figures check individual college websites.
[See also SUSI Grant Scheme
For students who are likely to be living away from home, on-campus accommodation, student villages or halls of residence are often the best choice for 1st year, as these offer a comfortable bridge between home and the independence of living in a flat or apartment.
Students will also need to budget for weekly living expenses for an academic year (nine-month period from September to May).
Things to consider: rent, supermarket shopping, meals on campus, electricity/heating bills, refuse bills, parking fees, mobile phone costs, travel, clothing, snacks on campus, socialising, health, books and materials,
laptop, course related travel and field trips, Erasmus year or internship abroad.
Check out the budget calculator from the National Consumer Agency.
Parents that have been through the process suggest it’s a good idea to be prepared for a few unexpected expenses along the way.
Some colleges are now offering student loan systems (e.g. TCD ) which are designed to ease the burden of payment for the student contribution charge.
Note: *If you are getting the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) you may qualify for exemption from the student contribution.