BY JOHN ELLIS, FINANCIAL ADVISOR
The sun is shining. It’s the middle of June with more than 130,000 students completing their Leaving Certificate and Junior Cycle exams in more than 800 venues across the country. Holidays will then begin in earnest and the last thing families will want to think about, for a while anyway, are the educational costs that are coming down the line come September.
But as we all know the time will fly in and so will the bills as parents and students alike struggle to manage and meet the costs of further education.
During a recent Dáil session, Deputy Anne Rabbitte raised a pertinent question to Simon Harris, the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, regarding student fees for the upcoming 2023-24 academic year. She asked about the possibility of students having to pay full fees and was there any potential reductions in costs for students not receiving grants.
In response, the Minister emphasised the Government’s commitment to addressing the cost of education and providing support to students. While specific details were scarce and the fact that he did not mention student fees for the 2023-24 academic year, the Minister did highlight the ongoing efforts to reduce the financial burden on students and their families.
Minister Harris reiterated his intention to publish an options paper ahead of Budget 2024, which will outline various measures aimed at addressing the cost of education. This indicates that potential changes and considerations, including reductions in tuition fees and contribution costs, are being actively explored.
He said in his reply: “I have been clear that I want to see the student’s contribution towards tuition fees in higher education reduce in a meaningful way over the course of future budgets. In this regard, I was pleased to secure Government agreement to the introduction of a permanent new rate of student contribution support through SUSI from September 2023.”
The new rate aims to assist families with incomes between €62,000 and €100,000 and will provide a grant of €500 towards undergraduate student contribution for free fees students. Additionally, the income limit for students to avail of the 50% student contribution grant will be increased, potentially benefiting a larger number of students.
Every little helps but it is important to note what Minister Harris said, that “more help will be over the course of future budgets”. It’s going to be a long-term fix, if at all, but the costs are going to be substantial for the coming years.
A quick look through the university websites will show that. For example, if you are expecting to study Arts, the Sciences or Business in the main universities the costs range from €9,500 to €6,350 for 2023/24. Want to take an MBA? That will set you or your employer back €18,000 on average.
Accommodation? If you can secure it, it ranges from €595 to €1,352 per month depending on the town or city you are looking at. Don’t forget utilities,, ranging from €45 to €120 a month, and then there are ‘living expenses’.
Ultimately, the Government’s commitment, whatever it may be, to reducing the financial burden on students will only go so far and will be dependent on future circumstances. Therefore, it’s important that you seriously consider the importance of starting to save now.
For example, let’s say you have three children aged six, four and two and in 16 years’ time they are all in full-time education! You will need to set aside, approximately €320, €270, and €240 a month respectively for each child – €829 a month in total to meet the expected costs.
As with some students, your grown children may be able to get a part-time or summer job to help with the costs. But still, begin to monitor your spending by reviewing bank statements or using budgeting apps to get a clear understanding of where your money goes and decide to create a savings habit by setting aside a portion of the child benefit payments you currently receive and/or a realistic percentage of your monthly budget.
Call us as we can evaluate savings and investment options based on the time you have before your child starts college and be ready to meet the costs head-on. Choose a savings account that allows you easy access to funds, ensuring you’re ready because the bills are coming.
T: 086 8362622