The Cost of Education in Ireland 2019

The Cost of Education in Ireland 2019

(reproduced courtesy of 

Whether your children are in primary, secondary or third level education, chances are you are underestimating the cost of sending them to school and college.

Counting the cost

Education in Ireland is supposed to be free, but each year back-to-school costs are rising for families. The cost of putting just one child through school can easily run into tens of thousands of euro. If you have two or more children then you’re going to have to dig even deeper to sustain the cost of their educational needs over the long-term. Research carried out by Zurich on the Cost of Education in Ireland reveals what parents estimate the cost of education to be and what the actual cost is. The research also highlights that expenses incurred for children in secondary school almost double that of primary and third level expenditure is triple that of secondary. When it comes to financing children’s education, the need for sacrifices follows the same upward trend – the higher the educational level, the higher the necessity for making sacrifices to cover education costs.

The Average Annual & Lifetime Cost of Education

Primary School €830€6,640
Secondary School  €1495€7,218
College €9,011€36,044

Source: Zurich Cost of Education Survey 2018

The Cost of Primary School Education

What parents estimate the cost of education to be and what the actual cost is, differs significantly. For example, parents think the annual cost of education for primary school is €584, but the actual figure is €830 per year*. The highest spend during a child’s primary school year is extra-curricular activities (€191) and then lunches (€124). The research findings also reveal that although most parents (83%) don’t get a loan to pay their children’s primary school expenses, the number of those who do has doubled from 9% in 2017 to 17% this year.

Source: Zurich Cost of Education Survey 2018

The Cost of Secondary School Education

Zurich’s Cost of Education report highlights that parents sending their children to secondary school believe it costs them €1,236 each year, per child. However, the actual cost is €1,495 per year. The highest spend items for parents with children in secondary school are grinds (€279) and lunches (€177). After that, the largest costs are books €159 and school trips and activities – both costing €158. Zurich’s Cost of Education report also finds that in order to fund their children’s education, parents are sacrificing spending on holidays, summer camps and clothing to cover the cost of education. Compared to primary education, 28% of parents surveyed are more likely to take loans out to pay for their children’s secondary school costs – an increase of 7% compared to last year’s survey.

Source: Zurich Cost of Education Survey 2018

The Cost of College Education

College doesn’t come cheap and by the time a teenager reaches third level, parents are really feeling the cost of putting their children through university or college. Zurich’s Cost of Education survey reveals the true cost of third level education in Ireland, and it’s not surprising to learn that accommodation and college fees are the highest spend items during the college year. The cost of accommodation for the college year ranges from over €3,000 to over €4,000, depending if you are paying for rented or student accommodation.


Student fees have also seen a considerable increase compared to last year – going up from an average of €2,066 to €2,419 in one year. Other costs such as transport have also increased.


Source: Zurich Cost of Education Survey 2018

Saving for education

A great education is the best possible start in life and for most parents ensuring they can provide for their children’s education, from primary school right through to third level, is crucially important. Two thirds (67%) of parents who were surveyed for the Cost of Education report said they want to open a savings account as early as possible in their children’s life. With a Zurich Easy Access Savings plan you can gradually build up the funds necessary to support your children’s education and future. 

Cost of Education Calculators

Our Cost of Secondary School Calculator is a tool that helps you work out how much you need to save to cover the costs of putting children through secondary school.

Cost of Secondary School Calculator

Use our Cost of College Education Calculator to work out the estimated costs of sending your children to college and to see how much you might need to save each month to meet these college costs.

Cost of College Education Calculator

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