The Cost of Free Education in Ireland


This week will have see the first day back at school for many of our children.


Happy days you say, however those of us who have children in the education system in Ireland know that the cost of ‘free education’ has risen substantially over the last few years.


It is estimated that the cost of sending a child to Primary school is on average €1,186 per annum, with secondary school costing on average €1,491 per annum.


That’s for one child, and if you have two or more school going children it is a huge financial burden on parents. Many schools look for a voluntary contribution on top of this, and you may have a fee if your child is completing Transition Year.


Its easy to see how many families get themselves into debt to the tune of €336 on average, whilst 21% of parents have debts of up to €500. Books in secondary school remain the most expensive item, with extra-curricular activities being the most expensive item for primary school children.


If you have a child in third level education, you can factor in €14,553 on average if your child lives away from home or €6,178 if you child lives at home but that is before the cost of transport to/from college.


Our free education system is akin to another mortgage particularly if you have 3 children attending secondary school and third level.


Our advice is to start a unit-linked savings plan early on in your child’s life which will allow you to invest in the markets. For example, if you saved the Government child benefit of *€140 per month for five years (*as of July 2021) from when your child was born, by the time they started school you could have built up savings of €8,587 in time to fund this crucial stage in their education.


Having a savings fund in place can help alleviate the financial pressure felt by you as a parent and leave you to concentrate on the things that matter. Children starting school and college is a big change in itself, and the impact of Covid has brought about other pressures that we are all too aware of.


The best time to start saving for your child’s future is now, but how do you get started?

It might seem like a daunting task, but with these top tips it’s easy:


Set a goal


First of all, you need to set yourself a realistic savings goal. For example, if *€140 per month is too much, and you started putting away just €50 per month when your child was born, by the time they started college you could have €18,000*. This is enough for a deposit on a small apartment in Dublin city centre or an off-campus college residence !



Frequency matters


Setting up a Direct Debit from your current account to an Investment account with your salary is ideal. It takes the effort out of saving and it also removes the temptation to spend that money elsewhere!


You can still add to this fund with lump sum deposits when you have some extra cash, but remember to stick to your plan and leave it alone until you reach your target.


Have an exit strategy


Before starting any investment project, think about how you will feel when things go wrong (which they inevitably will at some point), or if you need the cash for something else before your savings goal is reached. This way, if you ever do need to get your hands on some cash you’ll be able to do so. Investing with an end in mind is always a good idea, but remember that sometimes life can throw curve-balls (and if it does, make sure you’re prepared).


If you have any questions on a savings goal you have in mind, contact us today for more advice on how to set up a savings plan.