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Money saving tips for sending a child to college

September 02



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Sending a child to college is costing more and more every year. Estimated costs at the moment are between €8,000 and €11,000 per year. Almost half of Irish parents admit they are taking on debt to fund a child’s third level education.

But there are some clever things you can do, some in advance but others closer to the time your child starts college to give you an extra few bob for the academic year:

1. Start a savings fund

Although this may be too late if your child is about to start third level this month, it is worth considering if they have younger siblings. Putting away a manageable amount every month can make a big difference over a few years. Use a comparison website like Consumer Help to see which account offers the best return on savings.

2. Research College grant options

Does your child qualify for a maintenance or partial fee grant? There are three criteria that are taken into consideration when it comes to qualifying for a student grant:
  • Nationality or immigration status
  • Residency
  • Means
More detail on the thresholds and whether your child qualifies can be found at Citizens Information

3. Tax relief on tuition fees

If you do have to pay tuition fees, they are eligible for tax relief at 20%. That’s €600 back from fees of €3,000. Not too shabby!

4. Agree a student budget

Work out what your son or daughter will need each week for accommodation, food, bills, books and socialising and agree on a weekly budget for them to manage. A money tracking app like My Money Tracker will allow them to track their spending easily.

5. Accommodation with friends or relations

One of the biggest costs for a student is accommodation, particularly at the moment when there are so few priorities  available. A possible solution would be to see if a relative or friend who lives nearby would be willing to rent a room to your student during term time. It is important to agree ground rules around bringing friends back and when they are going to be there, Monday to Friday or 7 days a week?

6. Borrow money the easy way

If you must borrow avoid high cost loans and credit cards. Speak to your local credit union or bank about personal loans. The consumer protection commission have a handy comparison tool to see which loan offers best value.

7. Tighten up household budgets

Although you don’t want to sacrifice too much to fund your child’s college years, there might be some spending you can easily cut back on.

a. Keep a money diary
This is a great way to see where your money goes. If you are never more than arms reach from your phone download an app, otherwise a pen and portable notebook will do fine. Jot down what you spend every day. Review on a weekly basis and
b. Consolidate loans
If you have a number of small existing loans or repayments that are hampering your ability to save it might be worth speaking to your bank about a loan that covers all your debts. Then you only repay one fixed amount per month.
c. Switch provider
Did you know switching energy provider could save you €392 on electricity and gas? Definitely not to be sniffed at!

Look into changing other providers from mobile phone to mortgage and see how much you might be able to save.
 
Are there any other tips you would include? We would love to hear your experience of getting your son or daughter ready for the next stage in their lives. Leave a comment below!
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