Parents of prospective college students expect to shell out €5,122 to get them through the academic year, according to new research from Aviva.

The insurer's 'Cost of Education Report' adds that if the student is moving away from home, that cost almost doubles to €10,125.

Just under half of parents surveyed said they had made no financial preparations to meet the cost of sending children to third level, with three out of four of the view student loans are a good idea or certainly worth exploring.

Six out of ten students also think loans to fund their education are worth exploring.

The study was carried out by Red C, for which nearly 1,300 adults in a representative sample were interviewed.

Head of Individual Life and Pensions at Aviva Ann O'Keeffe said "it's not surprising that parents want to explore all options for funding Higher education, including the option of a student loan system.

"But whatever the outcome of that debate, education will continue to be a big item in the family budget."

She added that funding third-level education "continues to be a financially daunting prospect for the majority of parents, although there are signs that families may be getting to grips with this major financial challenge.

"Last October, Aviva's Family Finances research found that 41% had made some preparations of the cost of higher education. This latest survey, completed in May, shows that number has improved by 10 points to 51%."