College Costs

College Costs

As Leaving Certificate students mull over their CAO offers, they can take heart that the majority of third level students are now highly optimistic about their future job prospects. A new survey, commissioned by the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU), has examined the attitudes and concerns of 474 third level students and 539 parents of college-going students.

What the Students Say;

75% of students expect to find work in Ireland when they finish third level, compared with just 39% in 2011 at the height of the economic recession. Less than a third of students (30%) expect to have to emigrate to find work, compared with a huge 75% in 2011. 10% of students now say they will actively look for a job overseas – down significantly from 32% six years ago. Over two thirds of students (65%) say they are looking forward to a bright future in Ireland – compared with just 21% in 2011.

In 2011, two thirds of students (64%) said their biggest concern was not finding a job – that figure has dropped considerably with just over one third (35%) now reporting this to be their biggest worry.

Money Concerns

While confidence levels have improved hugely and the outlook in 2017 is largely optimistic, the attitude towards college-related finance and money issues has remained broadly the same. Students continue to struggle to cope with the pressure of third level costs – with two thirds (66%) saying financial worries are negatively impacting their overall college experience in 2017. This is almost on a par with 67% at the height of the recession in 2011. Almost six in ten students (59%) say that finance and debt is their biggest concern in 2017, a fall of just 9% on 2011 figures (68%).


There has been a notable increase in the numbers saying they have to work throughout the college term to help make ends meet. Two thirds (66%) now say they are working compared with 55% in 2011. Students are also working longer hours in 2017 – reporting an average of 21 hours a week for a weekly wage of €231, compared with 14.5 hours per week for a wage of €145 in 2011. Almost a quarter of students who work in 2017 say they are skipping lectures to do so (22%).

Commenting on the findings, ILCU Head of Marketing and Communications Emmet Oliver said: “It’s very heartening to see such optimism for the future amongst our younger generations. It remains clear however that the day-to-day reality of coping with the cost of third level is putting a significant strain on students with such large numbers reporting that it negatively impacts their college experience and with many having to work and skip lectures to help make ends meet.”

“We would encourage all students, and their parents, who may need financial support for third level, or who simply need some advice with finance, to seek assistance. We would like to reassure them that they are always welcome to contact their local credit union to avail of guidance with budgeting and personal finance. Credit unions also offer some of the most competitive student and education loans on the market.”

Accommodation Issues

Accommodation is a source of major concern for students in 2017 with rental costs the main obstacle in finding somewhere suitable to live. Four in ten had not yet sourced accommodation at the time of the survey (July 2017). Of these, 68% said they were worried that they may not be able to find accommodation for the coming college year. Over half of the same group (54%) said it was because accommodation was too expensive, while well over a quarter (29%) said it was because they were unable to find anything suitable

Of all students surveyed, nine in ten view rental costs as being extremely or very high. 58% plan on living at home for the approaching college term in 2017, rising to 66% for the 2018 college term.

What The Parents Say;

The survey found that parents are also more optimistic about the prospects of employment for their children after college. In 2011, 41% of parents said their child finding a job was this was their biggest worry, this figure has almost halved to 20% in 2017.

Money Concerns

However, on a less positive note, the numbers saying that money issues are their biggest worry has risen considerably. In 2011, 25% of parents reported this to be their greatest college-related concern, now one third of parents (33%) say it is their biggest worry. It comes in well ahead of worrying about misuse of drugs and alcohol (15%) and their children passing exams (14%). Previous increases in college registration fees (to a maximum rate of €3,000) could be one of the reasons why money is now the biggest worry for third level parents.


Indeed, when asked about the effect of the increased registration fees, 75% said family budgets had been adversely impacted by this. Almost eight in ten parents surveyed in 2017 (79%) said they will struggle to cover the cost of their child’s third level education.

Accommodation Issues

Parents are also finding accommodation a significant worry with 56% saying they are particularly stressed about rental costs. Just 9% believe there is an adequate supply of rental accommodation for students.

Financial Support

The numbers of parents supporting their children with college related costs has increased slightly since 2011 with 92% now saying they financially support their children through third level, up from 90%. More parents are now in a position to help finance third level costs through their savings and monthly income than in 2011. The most common method of funding third level is now savings (43%) up from 38% in 2011. 42% of parents are using their monthly income, up from 39% in 2011.

Your Credit Union Here For You!

To help with the financial challenges of attending college we have introduced a new Student Loan rate of 6% (6.2%APR). This is one of the most competitive rates currently available. The Student Loan can be used to cover registration costs, course materials, a new laptop and accommodation costs.

We would also encourage all Leaving Cert students to apply for our €1,500 Student Bursary to help with college costs. Application forms can be picked up from our office or download it here.

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A Student Loan

A Student Loan

St. Michael’s Credit Union isn’t here for profit, we’re here for people! At St. Michaels, we understand the positive effect a student loan with your credit union can have. We also have our Bursary Draw for €1,500 and invite all students to apply!

Covering College Costs

A student loan can help in a variety of ways whether it’s paying for;

  • College Fees
  • Accommodation
  • Books
  • Course Material
  • Living Expenses
  • Transport

This can be an expensive stage in anyone’s life but you’ll find your local credit union is there to help. Call in for a chat today and we’ll soon have you sorted for the year ahead. Our staff are happy to provide guidance and answer any questions you might have. We only propose student loans with realistic terms, which you can pay back in a way that works best for you. Last year we also posted on college accommodation and the cost of third level education to help our members have the best understanding.

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Cost of College 2016

The Benefits

As with all credit union loans, there are a number of benefits that you simply don’t get anywhere else. The benefits include;

  • No administration fees or transaction charges
  • You can pay back your student loan early without facing a penalty
  • Flexible repayment options
  • You pay interest only on the reducing loan balance

How To Apply

The student can apply for the loan on their own account with a parent/guardian to sign as a guarantor or the parent/guardian can apply on their own account. It’s that easy! You can use our Loan Calculator to get an estimate.

Tony Burke €1,500 Student Bursary

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The bursary is available to Leaving Cert students who are attending any third level course. More details can be found HERE.

Remember, in your local credit union, you are not a customer, you are a valued member! 

The Cost of Third Level

The Cost of Third Level

Recently the Irish League of Credit Unions published a study on the ‘Cost of Third Level Education’ in Ireland. In this post we are going to take a look at some of the expenses and their impacts outlined in the study. We know it can be an expensive next step in a young persons life but college is an investment in the future. St. Michaels is here to help our members with financing the next step in education if that is your path.


As was covered in a previous blog post, accommodation is an ever increasing stress factor for students. With 67% of study participants saying they were extremely worried about accommodation for the coming academic year. According to the most recent report there is 20% fewer properties to rent than this time last year. With the national average rent at a high of €1,037, surpassing Celtic Tiger rates. 65% of students are also remaining at home for college this is a rise of 3% on 2015 another indicator of the struggle to obtain adequate accommodation for many.  9 out of 10 students view the cost of accommodation as being very high. All this is a reflection of the current housing situation nationwide at the moment.

College Costs & Your Credit Union

The infographic below highlights some of the other college costs that were highlighted in the study;

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It is not surprising that young adults living away from home while attending college, have higher monthly living costs. We have previously discussed the different expenses linked to college in our last post College Expenses. When looking to fund third level education, parents are thinking of credit unions second only to their monthly income. A testiment to the relationship that has developed between credit unions and their members over the years. A student loan makes sense from a credit union because of the benefits, the fact we are local and owned by you the members!


Over half of parents 53%, stated “It is really hard, costs are constantly increasing” this has been seen in the increases to college contribution fees and accommodation prices, particularly in recent years. In the study, 62% of parents responded that having a child in third level education adversely affects their household budgeting. Of the students who participated in the study only 33% received advice on payment plans for third level. St. Michael’s Credit Union is here to serve the financial wellbeing of our members. So, if you would like to talk about money matters please don’t hesitate to call into the office to talk. Our staff will be more than happy to provide guidance on budgeting and other financial matters.

As you would expect for students their biggest concern is passing their exams with 83% putting it as the top concern. This is followed in prominence by worries in relation to finance, with 57% find it’s troubling them. We would like to remind all members that we also still have the chance to recieve the Tony Burke Memorial Student Bursary of €1,000 to help cover the costs. More details can be found on our website.

Bursary Social post

If you would like to get an estimate for a education loan or any other loan for that matter please take a look at our loans calculator here.

College Expenses

College Expenses

If you are planning on going to college this September, you’ll need to be thinking of how to finance the next step in your education. In a previous blog post, we wrote about the cost of accommodation for students. We are now going to take a look at some of the other costs involved with going to college. One cost that all students will have to pay is the registration fees to the third level institution and then there are living expenses. The vast majority of undergraduate students won’t have to pay the tuition fee because it’s covered by the governments Free Fees Initiative.


Registration Fees

The maximum that a third level institution can charge for a  contribution fee is €3,000 and the majority charge students this rate. Fees can be paid in installments if that suits better, at the start of semester 1 and 2 (begins around the start of the new year). The table below gives an example of  our two types of loans to cover costs over 12-month term;





Weekly Repayments

Total Amount

Total Interest Repaid




1 Year




€3,000 Standard 11.6% 1 Year €60.97 €3,170.28


Correct as of 10/08/2016.

When a loan is taken out with us we make sure it’s tailored to your needs because we are here for our members first and foremost! A Secured Loan can be given for any purpose provided the loan balance matches, or is less than, the balance of your shares. As the loan is secured against your savings you get a discounted interest rate. We understand that when funds are needed some members would prefer to take out a low-cost loan rather than dip into their savings.

Other College Fee

The other fee that must be paid is generally known as Student Levy/Capitation fees. These vary from college to college and are determined by the services included, usually including the Students Union membership fee. Below is a list of these fees by the third level institution;

Third Level Institute

Student Levy/Capitation Fee

University College Cork (UCC)


NUI Galway (NUIG)


Dublin City University (DCU)


University College Dublin (UCD)


Trinity College Dublin (TCD)


These are additional fees that must be paid at the start of the academic year by students along with their registration fee.

Living Expenses

Many of these costs are reduced when a student is living at home for college. Living expenses vary depending on which part of the country you are living in. Spending obviously depends on things like; cooking or eating out, social activities, transport, printing and textbooks amongst other things. We have combined the student living cost from third level institutes in the cities below and got the average;

Utilities (Gas/Bins/Electricity) Food Travel Books, & Printing Miscellaneous


Cork €360 €2,250 €585 €675 €1,800 €5,670
Dublin €612 €2,410 €1,011 €432 €1,583 €6,048
Limerick €340 €2,630 €600 €450 €1,343 €5,363
Galway €540 €2,340 €585 €540 €1,620 €5,625

Every student is going to spend their money differently as no two are alike but everyone has living expenses. You can find more information on each of the college’s fees on the links below; University College Cork; UCC, Cork Institue of Technology; CIT, Dublin City University; DCU, University College Dublin; UCD, Trinity College Dublin;TCD, NUI Galway; NUIG, University of Limerick; UL, and Limerick Institue of Technology: LIT .

Tony Burke & St. Michael’s Credit Union Memorial Student Bursary

Bursary Social post

We are proud to offer our members the opportunity to avail of the Tony Burke & St. Michael’s Credit Union Student Memorial Bursary worth €1,000! Are you or someone you know hoping to study Irish, Maths, or Geography at UCC?

If so, you may be eligible for the €1,000 Tony Burke & St. Michael’s Credit Union Student Bursary for your first year. It is made available to members to help cover the costs of college. This is made possible due to the generosity of the late Tony Burke’s family. Tony was a former Chairman of St. Michael’s Credit Union.

Application Form 

Further Information 

A Student Loan With Us

The benefits of taking out a loan with us to pay for college are;A Loan With UsIt can also be a good idea to factor in the cost of having to stay somewhere while looking for accommodation!

  • You can pay off your loan early, make additional lump sum repayments or increase your regular repayments, without a penalty. Other lenders may charge you extra for paying them back faster!
  • Once you are eligible for a credit union loan, repayment terms can be designed around your needs.
  • Repayments are calculated on your reducing balance, so you pay less interest with each repayment.
  • There are no hidden fees or transaction charges.

With the costs mentioned above college is laying the groundwork to have the ability to have higher earnings later in life. It’s an investment in the future and we are here to help!

Further Information

More information can be found at;

You can use our loans calculator

You can give us a call on; 021 435 7771

Pop into our office for a chat about a student loan that’s tailored to you.



Back to School Costs

Back to School Costs

The back to school time of year puts a strain on family finances and it is something that has been getting more expensive, year on year since 2012. In recent research published by the Irish league of Credit Unions, they highlight the high costs that families face at the end of the summer. Many parents are already planning for their little ones returning to school as they begin summer holidays because of the staggering costs involved. They need to have the summer months to spread out the cost, even still many parents will be forced to borrow because planning alone won’t do.

The average cost per child for primary school is €967 and for secondary level students its €1,474 in total. These are costs that can quickly add up and put families under financial strain come the start of the new school year particularly in families with more than one child.

Back 2 School Costs Updated

The infographic above highlights some of the costs that families face at that time of year. There has been a substantial change in the number of parents shopping online with 60% stating that they now shop online compared to 47% in 2015. This change has happened because parents are looking for better deals to save money and it’s more convenient. Many feel that there is also a pressure to purchase branded school items for their children.

With parents borrowing on average €357, there is clearly a need to seek additional financing. That’s where we can help our members with loans that are tailored to them and at reasonable rates! Our Secured Loan would be a great financial fit for many of our members to cover the costs of returning to school without touching their savings. Our secured loan rate is 5% APR and they are generally approved quickly. Use our loan calculator to get an estimate!

Further information on the cost of sending children back to school can be found here;,10212,en.php

College Accommodation

College Accommodation

Thinking of Heading to College in September?

With the Leaving Cert well and truly underway, the next step for many students is on to college. So we have put together information that everyone contemplating college next year should take into account. In this post, we are paying particular attention to accommodation. For many of our members, the first ports of call will be to University College Cork or Cork Institute of Technology. However, others will be looking further afield for the course they want to study, which inevitably means a need for accommodation. It is an exciting time in a young person’s life and for many it is their first taste of independence. The importance of a student’s accommodation for their college performance and experience has been highlighted numerous times.

The Facts

The number of people attending college has never been higher and it’s a trend that is set to continue. This growth coupled with the shortage of housing is creating huge pressure on student housing availability. Total enrolments for the last academic year were a staggering 214,694 and over the past five years alone there has been a 4% increase. From these numbers, it is easy to see the strain being placed on student accommodation.

According to’s most recent report on rental properties, there has been an average increase nationwide of 9.3%. The average rent is €998 with cities having the highest rates (where the colleges are mostly located). Paying for accommodation is one of the largest expenses that students face. The average prices outlined below have been taken from the same report.

Price of accommodation per month;

Dublin; North City: €1,365   City Centre: €1,455  South City: €1,581

Limerick City; €792

Waterford City; €687

Galway City; €900

Cork City; €1,003searching

These cities have seen increases of 16% on the previous year due to the lack of rental properties available. It must also be taken into account that a minimum deposit is a usually a months rent and an academic year is 9 months.

It can be an expensive but important time for young adults with new responsibilities and for many it’s their first steps on their career path. St. Michael’s Credit Union are here to support members, as we have been for over 50 years! Feel free to pop into the office to talk about a loan that suits you at affordable rates. You can also use our website to get an estimate with the Loan Calculator. Some of the benefits of getting a loan with us;

  • You can pay off your loan early, make additional lump sum repayments or increase your regular repayments, without a penalty. Other lenders may charge you extra for paying them back faster!
  • Once you are eligible for a credit union loan, repayment terms can be designed around your needs.
  • Repayments are calculated on your reducing balance, so you pay less interest with each repayment.
  • There are no hidden fees or transaction charges.

Tips On Viewing Accommodation

When viewing a property there are a few key things to take into account;

  • It is important to know your rights as a tenant and they can be found here; rights and obligations.
  • Don’t just settle for the first place that you find, it’s important to shop around even in the current market and find the best accommodation that suits you.
  • Read you lease agreement carefully and make sure that the specific length of time you plan to live there is clearly stated. Most private landlords look for residents to commit to a yearlong lease, while university run accommodation and landlords on a university’s list will usually accept a 9-month lease (the full academic term). If you are unsure of anything in the lease, contact the accommodation office of your college to clarify. They will be more than happy to help!
  • When viewing a property check for the following; dampness, mould, electrical faults, broken facilities or furniture, heating system and anything else that’s important to you. If the property is cold and damp in August/September you can bet that it will be freezing come winter!
  • Once you move into a property make sure to take photographs especially anything that you consider damaged. If you can include the time and date that’s even better. These might come in handy if there are any future disagreements.
  • If requested a landlord must supply a rent book and this can be used as evidence if there is a dispute over payment.
  • The withholding of deposits can be an issue at the end of the year, this is when the photographs come in handy! Threshold is a free service that can also be contacted during a dispute.
  • Be clear if utility bills are included in the rent or not. If they are not included it is important to organise the payment of bills quickly.

Where to Look

Searching for accommodation can be a daunting task but most third level institutions have their own lists of properties and landlords. College and universities will have an accommodation officer who is there to assist students so don’t be afraid to make use of them if needed. There are  websites such as and, and local letting agents.student

Many first year students chose to live in student complexes as they are often less hassle and are designed for students. They are a great way to get to know people and to get your bearings around the college. However, they are usually not paid on a monthly or weekly basis but on the college semesters. With the first payment at the beginning of the year and the second half of the payment needed around Christmas. Additional college accommodation information can be found on the links below;

If you would like to compare the accommodation to those for Cork colleges;

It is important to pick an accommodation that best suits you and your budget. We are here to help with financing the next step in your education and career!