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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Tips For Reducing Exam Stress

Tips For Reducing Exam Stress

The Leaving Cert is fast approaching and we’ve put together a few tips to help students reduce their stress levels!

Your Mental Health

It’s important to remember that exams aren’t everything and whatever happens you can still be successful in life! The Leaving Cert doesn’t define you as a person and once you have an exam done try to forget about it.

Don’t keep things bottled up. Talking to someone you trust and who will be supportive is a great way to alleviate stress and worry. Chat to people who’ve been through the Leaving Cert or your friends that are also doing the exams.

Most of all believe in yourself! If you prepare for the exams properly you should do fine, meaning that there is no need to worry excessively.Take Control

Take steps to overcome problems. If you find you don’t understand some of your course material, getting stressed out won’t help. Instead, take action to address the problem directly by seeing or talking to your teacher or getting help from your classmates or even look online for a solution.

Know your Leaving Cert timetable and make yourself aware of the sequence of exams and how they are scheduled. Make sure your family knows of these important dates. Put the timetable in an easy to view spot like the fridge.

The number of students that don’t prepare a personalised study plan is surprising! Websites and Apps are available to help create one, with GoConqr being a good example. GoConqr’s calendar tool will help you align your goals with your day-to-day study. With some initial effort, you can become more productive and motivated each day you approach your study. Don’t try to copy how others study, work out what is best for you.Prioritise your subjects and allocate time to revising each subject area.

Just pick one that suits you best!Take Control (1)

We bet you don’t even realise the number of times you check Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or whatever else throughout your day? All this time adds up quickly and amounts to a significant amount of time. It can be hard to break away from your social life outside of studying but keeping the end goal and timeframe in mind will ease the process. It will be done before you know it!

There are productivity websites available to help you block out those online distractions! We recommend the SelfControl website blocker.Take Control (2)

Students feel as if they should spend their entire time before exams with their books open and their pen in hand. However, research has proven that exercising such as taking a walk can boost your memory and brain power. Regular exercise, around 30 minutes a day for students, is crucial for both body and mind, at it releases endorphins. During the Leaving Cert exams, use whatever stress reliever works best for you. To get a short break to help clear your mind.

During the Leaving Cert exams, use whatever stress reliever works best for you. It doesn’t have to be a sport, it could be music, playing a console, Netflix or anything else that helps you relax. To get a short break to help clear your mind.Take Control (3)

Sleep is a necessity! Avoid drinking stimulants like Monster and Red Bull in the evening. Aim for a minimum of seven hours sleep a night. You’ll wake up feeling more energised and less burned out and groggy than if you stayed up late. When energised in the morning you’ll be far more productive.

Our Bursary

If you’re thinking about college our Student Bursary has been increased to €1,500! It has also it has also been expanded to include all third level institutions and courses. The application for is available here;

Application Form

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