Press Release on Back to School Expenses5 July, 2023
St Colmcilles (Kells) Credit Union supporting families in Kells and the surrounding areas
Credit Union Back to School Tracker 2023 shows significant increase in parents feeling financial burden of children going back to school.
St Colmcilles (Kells) Credit Union urges families struggling in the Kells and surrounding Community to come and talk to them, as findings from the Irish League of Credit Unions annual School Costs survey are released, tracking the costs and impacts of children returning to school.
With 72% of parents saying that covering the costs of back to school is a financial burden, and parents spending €1,152 per primary school child and €1,288 per secondary school child, the summer months can be an extremely challenging time of year.
Margaret Smith CEO of St Colmcilles (Kells) Credit Union said the credit union is aware that covering the costs of back to school can be a big of the struggle for parents “We are aware that back to school costs can place huge financial pressure on families. We want to reassure parents in the Kells and surrounding community that the Credit Union is here, for anyone who needs help, be it with budgeting for the back-to-school spend, or taking out a loan to help cover the costs. We understand that these costs can be financial burden, particularly at a time when other costs of living are so high.”
The 2023 survey shows that parents continue to feel a considerable financial burden educating their children. While we have seen a slight reduction in the amount being spent per child on back-to-school costs compared to 2022, general cost of living increases are impacting on households. So while the reduction in back-to-school costs are welcome, it is partly due to parents cutting back on extra-curricular activities and we still have parents getting into debt to cover back-to-school costs.
David Malone, CEO of the Irish League of Credit Unions said: “The average level of debt is €306 with 17% of parents having debts of over €500. We are also seeing the same number of parents getting into debt compared to last year (29% both years). Thankfully, the message on getting a credit union loan rather than using Payday or money lenders for help with back-to-school expenses seems to be getting through. For back-to-school supplies, 4% will seek a credit union loan and no respondent said they would go to a bank or moneylender. This is the type of community need which Credit Unions meet every day”.
Mr Malone said that more generally, cost of living increases are impacting all households and 40% of parents of school children have cancelled or reduced non-essential services / activities to cover rising costs. More concerning is that 18% of parents of school children are trying to earn additional income and the potential impact this might have on family life.
“13% of parents said they were seeking a loan to cover additional household costs with 2% saying they would go to a money lender to do so. Again, we would urge anyone needing help with household costs, particularly those who feel they have no option but to use a money lender to talk their local credit union”.
Echoing Mr Malone’s comments, Margaret Smith from St Colmcilles (Kells) Credit Union, urged parents who might be struggling with Back to School Fees to contact the credit union. “Credit Cards can be an expensive form of finance if you are not paying back the full amount due on your card each month, while moneylenders can charge exorbitant interest rates that make repaying the loan beyond the financial reach of the borrower. Our credit union offers a special student rate on our back to school loan product. At such an expensive time of year for families, St Colmcilles (Kells) Credit Union is here to help.
Full Results from the ILCU Back to School Tracker 2023 are outlined below.
For further information, please contact: St Colmcilles (Kells) Credit Union Limited on 046 9240299
Irish League of Credit Unions
ILCU Back to School Tracker
Back to School Costs
The impact of the cost-of-living crisis is very evident this year with a significant increase in the number of parents saying they are under financial pressure with the costs of children returning to school. 72% of parents say that covering the costs of back to school is a financial burden compared to 66% in 2022. Despite this, the amount being spent per child on back-to-school costs has fallen compared to last year and the average debt burden has also fallen.
- 72% of parents say the cost of Back to School is a financial burden
- Parents are spending €1,152 per primary school child (2022: €1,195)
- Parents are spending €1,288 per secondary school child (2022: €1518)
- Extra-curricular activities is the top expense for primary schools (€191)
- School Books (€187) is the top expense for secondary schools
- More than 1 in 4 (29%) say they get into debt covering back to school costs.
- The average debt amount is €306 (down €33 vs 2022) with 17% having debts over €500
- 70% of parents believe that schools don’t do enough to keep the costs of going back to school down
- 75% of schools ask for a ‘voluntary’ contribution.
Free Primary School Book Scheme.
Despite schools being responsible for informing parents of the Free Primary School Books Scheme nearly half of parents surveyed did not know about it. Introduced by Government earlier this year, the scheme removes the costs of schoolbooks, including workbooks and copybooks for children attending recognized primary schools and special schools.
- 49% of parents have not been informed of the Free Primary School Books Scheme
- Of those parents who do not know about the scheme, 39% say they will buy their children’s primary school books outright
- 92% of parents think the new Free Primary Books Scheme will reduce their back to school costs, with 2 in 5 (40%) saying costs will reduce a lot
- More than 9 in 10 (92%) want the free books scheme extended to secondary schools.
Cost of Living Impacts
A majority of households (88%) are experiencing cost of living increases. Of parents with school going children, 88% also said they have been affected by general cost of living increases. Many parents are using savings to cover these extra costs, while 13% are seeking loans. Slightly more parents (40% compared to 38% of general respondents) are cutting back on activities to save money.
- 88% of respondents have been affected by rising costs of living since the start of 2023, including 88% of parents with children in school.
- A third of parents (33%) with school children are dipping into their savings to cover cost of living increases
- Almost 1 in 5 (18%) of parents of school children are trying to earn additional income.
- 13% of respondents, including 13% of parents with school children, are taking out loans to cover rising costs, with 2% using Payday / moneylender services
- 2 in 5 (40%) of parents of school children have cancelled or reduced non-essential activities to save money
- Increasing costs of food for school lunches (57%) is the biggest effect of the rising cost of living followed by increasing costs for school trips / activities (47%) and uniform costs (43%)
- 63% of parents shop online for school books. Saving money is the reason given by 61% of these parents.