It goes without a saying that an excellent education is a perfect start in life. Therefore, most parents believe that it’s important to provide for their children’s education. Based on research and what’s happening today, it’s evident that college and university education doesn’t come cheap. Let’s face reality; by the time your son or daughter reaches the third level of education, you will be feeling the pressure of funding his or her education.

Third-Level Education Costs in Ireland

You can consider forgiving your average financially harassed son or daughter for thinking that the so-called ‘free third-level education’ in Ireland is a misnomer. Though the government of Ireland pays the college or university tuition fee, there are numerous expenses that a student intending to join college or university should consider. For instance, the student will have to pay rent, buy textbooks, buy food, pay bus fare, and even their social life requires money. Besides, the inflation in Ireland seems to be biting hard at the student’s already tight budget!


A college or university student has two options; either live away from home (of course, near the school) or live at home.

Here are some of the costs you should take care of when you decide to stay away from home.

  • Rent expense for a flat or shared house
  • Power or heat or light
  • Food
  • Travel (whether you travel by bus or a train)
  • Costs associated with textbooks and other academic requirements
  • Medical expenses
  • Clothes and laundry costs and other related expenses
  • Social and nightlife
  • Miscellaneous expenses

Note that when you decide to live at home, you will eliminate the rent, power, and food expenses. Though you will have to buy food while in school, you will not spend as much as you would have spent if you were staying away from home.

In 2007, a survey conducted by Dublin College University (DCU) revealed that there had been an increase in the third-level education costs in Ireland and those costs have skyrocketed in the decade since with the annual total cost now at an estimated €8,200 for a student living in rented accommodation.

According to the survey, the estimated monthly cost of living away from home increased from €837 to €934 within a year. On the other hand, the estimated monthly cost of living at home rose from €509 to €569 within a year. Keep in mind that these estimated cost figures aren’t inclusive of the student’s registration fee and service charges that non-grant holder students must pay each year. Though these charges from one learning institution to another, the DCU estimates reveal that the charges are €700 to€800.

It’s worth mentioning that not all courses in most colleges and universities in Ireland are equal. In fact, many private colleges don’t qualify for the free fees program even if they’re in the CAO system. Do you realize that the so-called free third-level education isn’t free?


While students are required to meet the significant costs associated with studying at third level, there exist different ways of in which a student can fund these expenses. Thanks to the family support, loans, the pick ‘n’ mix of the maintenance grant, and scholarships, any student can survive in colleges and universities in Ireland.

The government maintenance grant is the primary funding option that most students consider. However, it’s important to know that not every student can qualify for this grant. Your eligibility will depend on your parent’s annual income or in the case of a mature student; your eligibility will depend on your income. Besides, the amount of grant you’re likely to receive will also depend on whether you live within a commuting distance of your college or university.

If you don’t qualify for the government maintenance grant, it’s difficult for you to cover the entire annual cost of education in Ireland. For this reason, you’re likely to depend on your parent’s support like most students do. Besides, most college students work part-time while in college. However, keep in mind that it can be challenging to juggle study commitments and work. Some of the third-level education courses are work-intensive, and when you are not attending a lecture, you’re supposed to be studying in the library or at home. On the other hand, some courses are less-involving. Doing part-time work doesn’t imply that you will fail your course but can mean the difference between the first grade and other grades.

Some colleges and universities in Ireland offer some scholarships or bursaries to help students minimize the cost of living. Note that these bursaries and scholarships are linked to specific courses and only students with outstanding academic results benefit. Students with sporting excellence or outstanding performance in other fields can also benefit special schemes designed to reward such achievers.

Managing your money is important

Given the ever-increasing cost of college education in Ireland and throughout Europe coupled with the limited funding options you have, it’s wise to work out a kind of system to balance your expenses and income. This will help you to concentrate on your studies and enjoy your college/university life without worrying about money.