At this time of year, images of teenagers celebrating their Leaving Cert results are all over the media. While their parents will no doubt be sharing the joy, those whose offspring are destined for university or further education may have more mixed emotions. It is not so much an empty nest syndrome; it’s more like empty wallet syndrome. Paying for a university education is a considerable investment, never mind the cost of filling the student fridge with essentials such as lager and bacon.

Recent research on funding education costs has revealed the lengths to which parents go to make these three or four years of study and socialising possible for their children. A quarter of parents are prepared to empty their bank account completely, while one in ten would consider selling the family home.

But parents still underestimate the cost of university. Most parents think the cost will be close to €17,500 whereas the actual cost will be closer to €44,000. While that is a substantial sum of money and the figure looks daunting, small amounts invested regularly can potentially provide you with a lump sum that would go a long way to helping your child through university.

The Government child benefit is currently €135 per month for one child (as at August 2015). This amount invested regularly over 18 years would provide €46,829.

A gross investment return of 5.2% per annum is assumed. On encashment, partial encashment, assignment, death or on each 8th anniversary of the policy, tax is deducted on gains made. The figures shown allow for the deduction of tax (currently 41%, although the tax will be paid at the rate ruling at the time tax is payable). The Saving amounts are after the deduction of the Government Insurance Levy (currently 1% as at August 2015 and may change in the future). Contribution increases of 3% per annum are assumed. An annual management charge of 1.25% and an allocation rate of 101% apply.

If you need to save over a shorter period, talk to your financial broker about an alternative plan.