Most people are familiar with the stereotype of students being broke – it mostly comes across as a humorous cliche, whereby students poke fun at themselves for having money struggles. This humour, combined with the idea of not being alone in having financial difficulties, can make students feel better about it. However, a recent report carried out suggests that students struggling financially has now gone beyond a joke. Is there a solution to this ever-growing problem, which has surpassed the realms of a stereotype, or is financial difficulty just part and parcel of being a student?
A recent study undertaken by Eurostudent based on student living conditions revealed that over one third of higher-education students in Ireland are experiencing “severe financial problems”, with roughly 36% of the total student population saying they are in severe financial difficulty.
This may sound a bit extreme. They’re only students, they’re only young, what do they know about financial problems? And of course, to a lot of students out there, money is not an issue. It is possible for Irish students who do not cite their finances as a concern to exist. However, to students who are less well off, money can be of a grave concern and for those who are living away from home, it is easy to see why.
Moving away for college can be a fun and exciting experience. The newfound independence can help students to mature and it prepares them for living away from their parents in later life. However, although it may be absolutely necessary for a student to move away for college, it is not exactly the cheapest thing to do.
For student accommodation, the average cost of rent per month is €418 in Dublin, €320 in Sligo, €400 in Galway, and €475 in Cork. These prices may seem very attractive to some people, which they are – if you work a full-time job. Most students work part-time hours in jobs which pay them minimum wage. With Ireland’s minimum wage being €9.55 an hour, at a part-time rate students are making just enough to cover their monthly rent, if even enough at all.
And that doesn’t even begin to factor in other costs. For some students, it can seem that there is always too much month at the end of their money and are left not having enough funds to cover an array of costs, including socialising, food, gym or exercise classes, or even doctor’s fees. Of course, students can depend on external money such as accepting help from parents or applying for student loans, but the worry of not being financially comfortable can still hang around.
Although there is no immediate answer or easy solution to this problem many students face, it is worth noting that for Irish students the idea of being broke has gone beyond a cliche. Financial worry shouldn’t be something that school leavers should have to expect when coming to college, and it shouldn’t be something that college students have to experience either. Unfortunately, this is the reality many students have to face to receive third-level education, making it an issue that needs to be discussed more.
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