Students turning to Credit Unions for 2012/2013 academic year

Ami Connolly

Reporter:

Ami Connolly

Irish Credit Unions have reported a significant increase in applications for student loans ahead of the 2012/2013 academic year

Irish Credit Unions have reported a significant increase in applications for student loans ahead of the 2012/2013 academic year

Research carried out by the iReach Market Research on behalf of the ILCU in the last 12 months indicates that 72 percent of students are still relying heavily on their parents to help fund their 3rd level education.

On top of academic fees, the average monthly spend (excluding rent and bills) stands at approximately €480.

Half of the students surveyed rented accommodation during the college year paying €330 for the rent plus €70 bills a month on average.

The research also found that 55% of students were forced to work throughout the academic year, with 33% skipping lectures to do so.

Students were also asked what factors about college life worried them the most, financial issues along with fears about passing exams made the top of the list.

Kieron Brennan, CEO, ILCU said: “The significant cost of third level education puts phenomenal pressure on both parents and students starting or returning to 3rd level education this year. The increased registration fees combined with monthly rent and bills, books and materials and day to day expenses are a significant financial burden to many families. We have also seen the removal of financial assistance to postgraduate students. In the last budget, the postgraduate maintenance grant was scrapped, making it even harder for this category of students.

Credit unions are available to support both parents and students as they prepare for the academic year. Credit unions offer some of the most competitive personal, student and education loan rates on the market. We encourage anyone who is looking to finance their education or who simply want some advice on planning ahead or budgeting to call into their local credit union and speak to a member of staff. Planning ahead where possible is the best way to prepare for these expenses.”

Credit Unions can offer students much needed support and advice on a savings/budget plan. It is important that where possible to plan ahead for larger expenses such as college registration fees.

If possible, a regular savings habit is also important, whether you are saving to pay for something specific or just for a rainy. Saving can be an important part of planning ahead.

Credit unions offer some of the most competitive rates on education loans. Loans vary from credit union to credit union but on average stands at 6.30% APR.

Loans with the Credit Union are different, there are no hidden fees or transactions, their interest rates are fair and reasonable and capped by law, repayments are calculated on your reducing balance, so you pay less interest with each repayment, your credit union loan is also insured in the event of your death.

You can also pay off your loan early, make additional lump sum repayments or increase your regular repayments, without a penalty.

Many credit unions across the island offer scholarships or bursaries to their members. Traditionally, such awards tend to be for students going to college for the first time although recently credit unions have begun to include awards for mature students as there is little financial assistance available for this category of students. Awards vary in size but can typically be in the region of €1,000 per annum. Check with your local credit union to see what is on offer.