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6 Tips on how to finance your child's college degree.

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6 Tips on how to finance your child's college degree

Parents are at the centre of everyone’s college dream. They help prepare you for exams, and help fund you through your dream degree. But with rising fees, rent, costs and more, college can understandably be a challenge for many parents to afford. So what options are there for you? Here at Yooni, we feel that these tips and notes can help take the pressures off finance woes for the years ahead:

Grants support

Many parents might be unaware of the financial help available in preparing for college. Your first port of call is to see if you qualify for a grant to help play for fees, registration and accommodation. For example, if you are studying in Ireland, SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland) is the national awarding authority for all higher and further education grants. They support to all types of students, from school leavers to mature students returning to education. SUSI has an eligibility reckoner which will give you an indication on if your household qualify. Note the decision by the reckoner is only an indication and not binding. Also check out SUSI’s information article – New applicants – what to do for more information on first-time applicants and the appeals process.

Defer College for Savings year

Many students now defer their college placement for a year in order for them, and their parents, to get financial affairs in order. With their points and course already in the bag, a deferral gives a student another year to mature and gain part-time or full-time employment and setup a healthy attitude towards savings money. It can also increase the likelihood they can continue said work part-time when they start college the following year. See the CAO’s handbook on Deferring A Place for more information on how to defer a college place.

Deals, deals, deals

It’s easy for parents to get wrapped up in buying everything they see at the first sign of college. But anything from laptops, a new phone to USB drives don’t come cheap and take serious research, at least on price. A deal is music to any saver’s ears, and buying for college should be no different. Wait until there are Back to School deals which often apply to 3rd level too for anything tech based. Check out special Internet saving days such as Amazon Prime or Black Friday before as you’ll spot better bargains and make more informed choices. Remember: check out the college services and see what is necessary - many colleges have a number of high-spec computer labs and equipment rental services that may mean you don’t need to buy big at all. Also remember that a 3rd level student ID can give you access to so many discounts at shops and services, savings which can be passed on to the whole family, so shopping after registration could be wise. The student leap card for example, offers discounts on brands such as Boots, DID Electrical, McDonalds to The Irish Times and Shandon Travel.

Read the book list – and check it twice.

Speaking of renting, when the course syllabus is sent out, make sure that you and your child source what to buy and what can be rented. College libraries hold multiple copies of course books. Not only that, but some books on a reading lists may only require a few chapters to read, or are there for reference – making buying the entire book a costly decision. For books you must buy there are options: buying second-hand copies from past students will save you money and this usually happens when first year students are registered and settled in. If the book is in good condition, you in turn can sell it on the year after. The college bookshop usually has competitive prices, but compare with online book retailers just to be sure.

Living at college vs. Commuting

Funding your child’s college education can be hard when they also need a place to live in. Yooni believes open days are a great opportunity for you to ask student representatives on suitable places to rent, and most importantly what prices to expect per week. Remember that if you miss out on campus accommodation, there might be waiting-lists or the option to reapply in the second semester. If you live close to college, consider commuting (even for a semester) and register for a Student Leap Card for discounted travel tickets. House or room-sharing might be an affordable option to live near college, especially if with friends from home where the cost of meals and bills can be shared between a group.

Life skills matter

This might be your child’s first time being independent from home. Life skills are a huge advantage both in terms of quality of life, and of cost. Anything from:

Meal planning each day: How to plan lunches and dinners and cook in bulk to avoid canteen food and eating out every day.

Budget a weekly shop: How to budget money effectively will see every € stretch further. Why to avoid branded items, and buy home-branded. What and where to buy in bulk.

Cooking: Planning meals is key, but cooking them is the trick. A major skill that every student will need is how to prepare simple, but nutritious food at home which will make savings by cutting out ready-meals.

Travelling: Work out how to travel can reap huge savings – especially if you book train or bus tickets in advance.

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