Sending kids back to school is getting more and more expensive.

Parents getting into debt survey finds

According to the annual Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) school-costs survey, 68 per cent of Munster parents find covering the costs of back to school a financial burden compared to the national average of 61 per cent.

Even more worryingly, over one-quarter of Munster parents said they are getting into debt in order to cover the expenses.

Of those getting into debt, 39 per incur a debt of over €500, considerably higher than the national finding of 21 per cent.

The survey, which was carried out by i-Reach Insights in May 2021, also found that 65 per cent of Munster parents said they use their monthly income, with 38 per cent relying on their savings.

The number of Munster parents taking out a credit union loan jumped from 2 per cent to and alarming ten per cent which is twice the national average at five per cent, while 3.5 per cent of parents were forced to turn to moneylenders.

This year’s survey showed that the overall national spend on school items is up for both primary and secondary schools.

The cost of sending a child to primary school this September is coming in at €1,186, up €63 on last year, while parents of secondary school children can expect to pay an average of €1,491, up from €1,467 last year.

School books once again top the list this year as the most expensive item for parents of secondary school children at €211, up from €196 last year.

For the second year running, the ILCU survey also looked at the impact and concerns brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Munster, 69 per cent of parents surveyed reported that the mental health of their household has been affected, with 51 per cent agreeing that their child’s physical health has suffered.

Looking to the new school year, the survey found that 37 per cent of Munster parents think that the school calendar should be adjusted to accommodate for missed time due to Covid.

Commenting on this year’s findings, ILCU Head of Communications, Paul Bailey said he has seen a steady increase in the cost of school books and uniforms since the first survey six years ago.

He explained: “For parents with more than one school going child, these costs can place huge financial pressure on a family.”

Mr Bailey added: “If parents are unable to pay for back to school from their household income or through their savings, I would encourage them to explore cheaper forms of finance, by talking to their local credit union or bank, rather than using a credit card or going to a moneylender.”