A €500 cut in student fees has been proposed by Sinn Féin who want third level contribution charges completely phased out in the coming years.
Sinn Féin education spokesperson and Carlow/Kilkenny TD Kathleen Funchion highlighted the massive cost young families face in sending a child to college.
"If we can try to reduce the cost of the fees it will go some way in helping students to first of all access third-level education and more importantly stay in third level education because a lot of people might attempt the first year and unfortunately they fall out of that because of the cost of it," she said.
Ms Function said reducing current student fees by €500 would cost €34m each year.
She said: “CAO application figures fell from 80,568 in 2017 to 77,171 in 2018, despite very little change in the number of students sitting their Leaving Cert. This is a significant drop of 4.2% and, with recent reports estimating the annual cost of college to be in the region of €12,800, one cannot help wonder if students are simply not applying to college because they know they cannot afford it.
“Diversity of college students is vital to the economy. Having people from different cultures, financial situations, and upbringings strengthens the education and life skills students receive from the third level education. Accessible third level education not only benefits students, it benefits both the economy and society as a whole."