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Parents getting into debt to meet costs of sending their children back to school

DUBLIN: Parents are now spending more than the previous year to cover the cost of sending their children back to school, and many are going into debt as a result.

A survey of more than a thousand parents found that the overall cost of school items has increased for both primary and secondary schools. This is despite the fact that children were home-schooled at the start of the year.

Parents now spend €1,491 per secondary school child, an increase of €24 from last year, while the cost of sending a primary school child to school has increased by €63 to €1,186.

Books are the most expensive item for parents of secondary school students, costing €211 this year, up from €196 the previous year. Extracurricular activities are the most expensive

According to the survey by i-Reach Insights for the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU), the average debt parents find to send their child back to school is €336. Three-quarters have debts of more than €200, while 21% have debts of more than €500.

To meet back-to-school expenses, 68% of parents use their monthly income, 36% use their savings, and 17% use their credit card.

Meanwhile, some parents have reported that 71% of schools are still seeking voluntary contributions. Almost two-thirds of parents believe that schools do not do enough to assist reduce costs.

70% of parents reported that the COVID-19 epidemic had an impact on their family’s mental health. 65% of parents feel that home-schooling and lockdowns have had a negative impact on their child’s overall educational performance.

 Home-schooling has also caused parents to spend more money, with 35% citing the increased expense of feeding children as having a major impact on household finances, while 22% citing spending on laptops and tablets as having the greatest impact.

Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Social Protection, announced in June that a total of €118 million will be spent in three schemes to help schoolchildren and their families.

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