Motley Survey: The Cost of Being A Student

Kieran Murphy investigates the cost of being a student in 21st century Ireland.

While the recent budget has not been too harsh on students with the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) and the Student Grant been protected, a resounding number of student in a recent survey (78% of 230 students) conducted by Motley Magazine still feel that the government is not doing enough to help students financially. And who could blame them. The cost for students living away from home between rent, bills and books, not to mind trying to have somewhat of a social life is now deemed unaffordable for a considerable number of Irish students. Even those who live at home are faced with travel expenses and the nitty gritty expenses of being in education.

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The students surveyed fund themselves through a number of methods, with 76% receiving support from their parents, 56% using their savings while 14% availing of university access programs and student assistance funds.

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Therefore it is no wonder that over 60% of those surveyed find themselves struggling financially and this is all before counting in the contribution fee of €2500 which is due to increase next year by €250, and will reach €3000 in 2015. 44% claim they are yet to pay the €2,500 contribution fee for the 2013/14 academic year, with 23% believing they will be unable to pay it for the current college year.

However, the Irish government is not the only body to come under fire. Over 63% of students feel that Irish universities are not doing enough to help students with the price of textbooks, the cost of services on campus and other college essentials. These alone are adding to their financial struggle. Over 57% have praised their respective Student Unions for their work in assisting students financially through the Student Assistance fund, second hand bookshops and offering advice through student welfare officers.

Income

The students surveyed fund themselves through a number of methods, with 76% receiving support from their parents, 56% using their savings while 14% availing of university access programs and student assistance funds.

50% of students are in part time work while in college and 67% of those employed believes it negatively affects their students and just over half of people have had to miss class due to work.

40% of students have entered debt because of their studies, with the most popular forms of credit being credit cards and overdrafts. While 30% of those in debt only owe €100 or less, 47% are in debts of €1,000 and above and 7% of students are in debts of €10,000 and above although this could be due to the survey not factoring in mortgages. Average debt across the board is €2,540 – just €40 over the contribution charge amount.

In relation to the Student Grant, not everyone was able to avail of it. Only 31% of students surveyed are in receipt of a grant this year. Of the 85% who qualify for maintenance 32% have yet to receive their first installment on the 24th of October 2012 which was scheduled for the 18th of October.

Expenditure

The two biggest expenses while in college for many students are rent and commuting costs.

75% of students who responded to survey live in rented accommodation during the academic year.  The average cost of rent nationally is €360. However the difference between the capital and the rest of the country is noteworthy as Cork students pay €350 and Dublin students having to pay €425 a month.

For those who commute to college, the average cost is €81 a month however for those who live in rented accommodation but still must commute to college, the average cost is €75, however the survey failed to distinguish between visiting home and commuting to college.

The average student spends €123 on bills and grocery shopping per month with a worrying 23% of respondents claiming that they pay more than €190 a month, more than half the average cost of rent. As well as bills, the average student spends €88 a month on socialising with 44% of those surveyed saying they spend €60 less on socialising monthly.

Books and materials is not essential for every college course however the average amount that students spend or intend to spend throughout the academic year is €103 with only 9% of respondents only intending to spend €200 or more.