‘Back to School’ time expensive according to Bank of Ireland Life

Childcare, pocket money & extra curricular activities first to go as 98% of parents find ‘Back to School’ time expensive according to Bank of Ireland Life

Parents are currently feeling the financial pressure when it comes to putting their children through our education system according to research announced today, 8 August 2011, by Bank of Ireland Life, in association with online parent resource Schooldays.ie.

Nearly half of all parents cited that the past school year has been very difficult, with two-thirds of parents earning less than last year.

Almost half of parents struggling financially have made some alterations to their childcare, including after school care arrangements, while pocket money and extra curricular activities have been reduced or stopped by one-third of parents as they try to cope with the cost of putting their children through education.  However, it is perhaps comforting that three-quarters of parents believe that their children understand the financial difficulties they are facing.

Bank of Ireland Life highlights the need for parents, now more than ever, to plan ahead to make sure they can fund the costs associated with educating their children.  The company estimates that the current costs associated with educating a child to third level in excess of €60,000.

Feedback received from the parents surveyed supports this with three-quarters of parents wishing that they had started saving for their children’s education much earlier.  72% of parents believe that the best time to start saving for their children’s education is from the time they are born, using the monthly child benefit of €140, if possible.

Highlights from the research include:

  • 24% of parents are currently saving some or all of the child benefit (down 6% on 2010), with 43% of parents opting to do this with a regular savings investment plan.
  • 78% of parents say that the proposal to means test the child benefit payment would leave them in a difficult financial position.
  • 84% of parents believe that the public primary school education is just as good as that offered by private schools. However, this sentiment drops to just 61% for public secondary schools, while a further 38% said they would be willing to pay for private secondary education with the expectation of improving exam results.
  • Most parents agree that the third level education years will be the most expensive for them, yet only 37% have specifically started to save for these years.  74% can already see themselves having to borrow to fund these costs, rising to 90% if the Government re-introduces college fees.

With parents spending on average €395 this month alone as they purchase the back to school essentials, parents believe there are a number of ways in which these costs could be reduced:

  • 77% of parents think that school uniforms are too expensive, with 91% advocating the idea to introduce a school crest badge which could be affixed to a standard uniform that could be bought in a supermarket.
  • 50% of parents plan to buy a larger size school uniform for their children this school year to save money on the need to buy again next year.
  • 49% of parents will search through Irish recycling and community websites for free and second-hand schoolbooks, schoolbags and uniforms (up 7% on 2010).
  • 96% believe that frequent changes to the school book curriculum affect parents trying to save money by passing schoolbooks on to other siblings.

Bank of Ireland Life has put together a breakdown of typical costs of educating your child through primary, secondary and third level education. This year’s survey provides an estimate of over €60,000 compared to €70,000 last year on the current costs associated with educating a child to third level. The results demonstrate that over the last year parents have consciously spent less on all education related costs where possible,  including lunch, transport, pocket money and 3rd level rent expenses – from €100 to €400 less per annum in some cases.

Expenditure € Primary* € Secondary* € Third level**
Study Books and Materials 163 333 630
Uniform (Clothes for 3rd level), Sports gear and Shoes 193 260 378
Lunch / Food 287 376 1,521
Public Education Registration Fees / Voluntary Contribution 102 184 2,284*
Computer and Internet access
(Average Laptop €499;€180 Broadband Value Pack over nine months)
180 180 180 + once off cost of laptop
Transport 191 239 864
Rent (outside of Dublin) 2,583
Utility Bills (Electricity/Gas/Bins/Phone) 554
Pocket Money (over nine months) 161 424 991*
Total Annually 1,277 1,996 9,985
Years in Education 8 6 4
Grand Total 10,216 11,976 40,439

*Source: Bank of Ireland Life and Schooldays.ie market research May 2011

**Source: DIT Campus Life (Cost of Living Survey 2011/12)

Commenting on the research results, Brian Grimes, Head of Customer Propositions, Bank of Ireland Life said: “Children’s education, in particular university education is one of those large expenses in life can be very difficult to manage.  The research shows the strain that these expenses can cause and the increased difficulties when university years coincide with downturns like the one we are experiencing at the moment.

“It is worthwhile sitting down with a financial advisor to see how events like this can be planned for.  As a number of parents identified, planning for education costs from the earliest possible age can make these expenses far more digestible and ensure that the plans are less dependent on the economy.  We regularly sit down with customers who have been prompted to put something in place by the birth of a child or perhaps the start of primary or secondary school. We help them identify how much they should put away and where the best home for that money is.”

Annemarie Wade of Schooldays.ie observed that: “Our second hand books section is the busiest section on our website during the summer months.  Thousands of second hand books have been added to the site by parents who are taking the opportunity to raise funds through the sale of their children’s old books to help fund the purchase of books for the new school year. Our general Back-to-School section on the site is also exceptionally busy with parents reviewing our new information on school book offers from a range of providers around the country and many availing of our new facility to sell-on second hand school uniforms.”

Examples of ways to Save for your Children’s Education Monthly Savings Amount Term of Investment Projected Fund value at end of term
Save the monthly Child Benefit for 3rd level costs €140 From birth for 18 years €40,141
Save the monthly Child Benefit for 2nd level costs €140 From birth for 12 years €24,224

Projections are based on the policy value of a level Bank of Ireland Life SmartChoice Education plan over the specified investment terms after the payment of taxation (currently 30%). Projections assume a growth rate of 6% per annum, which is not guaranteed.

Warning: These figures are estimates only. They are not a reliable guide to the future performance of this investment.


Notes to Editors:

Research was conducted by Schooldays.ie on behalf of Bank of Ireland Life in May and June 2011, with a nationwide sample of over 1,296 parents with children in primary, secondary and third level education.

The State Child Benefit monthly rate for children under 18 for the first child is €140 as at July 2011.

Schooldays.ie is Ireland’s online resource for parents and teachers. Established in 2006, the website provides comprehensive information for parents on schools, parental resources, afterschool activities, mid-term camps and family milestones such as communions, confirmations, debs and birthdays. Parents can also compare new school book offers and source second-hand schools books through the website and sell secondhand school uniforms.  Teachers can source information on school tours, roadshows, competitions and school year events.

SmartChoice Education is Bank of Ireland Life’s most popular product solution for parents looking to save for their children’s future.

SmartChoice Education is a regular savings plan linked to the stockmarket that includes an innovative 25% loyalty bonus for those who commit to saving regularly for a period of seven years. In the first year of the plan, Bank of Ireland Life invests an amount equal to 25% of the customer’s initial annual contribution. Provided regular contributions are maintained for a period of seven years, the investment value of the bonus will be allocated on the seventh policy anniversary.

SmartChoice Education requires a minimum payment of €100 per month and has a wide range of investment funds for customers to choose from. SmartChoice Education has a minimum investment period of seven years. Terms and conditions apply. Life Assurance tax applies. Fees and charges apply.

For further information contact:

Laura Erskine

Public Relations Manager

Bank of Ireland Life

Tel: 01 6172586

Mobile: 086 856 2929

Anne Mathews
Media Relations Manager
Bank of Ireland
Tel: 076-623-4771 Mobile: 087 246 0358

New Ireland Assurance Company plc trading as Bank of Ireland Life is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland and is a member of Bank of Ireland Group.