Funding College

Grants and Funding

Thankfully there are a number of different ways you can get support with the costs of going to college. There are grants available to help people with course fees and there are funding supports, which provide people with weekly or monthly payments.

You can also check out what is available in your area. Some community groups or organisations support students by helping them get laptops or other equipment they may need. Please see below for a full description of funding supports available nationally.

Student Universal Support Ireland, or what is commonly known as SUSI is the student grant scheme available to Irish student applicants who are applying for college for the first time. SUSI is a support for all types of students, from Leaving Cert students, through to students who are going to college through the mature student entry route.

  • You must have been living in Ireland for three of the last five years.
  • You must apply to an approved course at an approved college. See details here. https://susi.ie/eligibility/
  • You must be progressing in your education. Progression means, moving up the levels on the National Framework for Qualifications
  • Your income must fall below specified thresholds.
  • You must be studying full time in the courses listed in the following list.
  • In addition, you can get financial help through SUSI if you are doing:

  • A Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) course – in this situation you will get a maintenance grant but not fees.
  • An undergraduate course – in this instance you will get maintenance and fees. (An undergraduate is someone who is studying at college for the first time.)
  • A postgraduate course – in this instance you will get a maintenance grant – and fees in some cases. (A postgraduate is someone who has finished a degree and may be going on to further study.)

For more information on SUSI and to check your eligibility for SUSI supports check out https://susi.ie/

The Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) is an educational opportunities scheme for people who receive certain social welfare payments. It is for those who hope to go on to college. You must qualify for the course you want to do before you can get this payment.

The Citizens Information Website gives the best overview of the Back to Education Allowance. But here is a brief description of what the BTEA is all about.

If you are unemployed or have a disability and you are getting certain social welfare payments, you may be able to get the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) when you go to college. The BTEA is only available for full-time courses that lead to a full qualification in QQI Level 5, 6, 7 or 8 courses. BTEA is available at Level 9 but only for a Higher Diploma qualification or a Professional Masters in Education.

How do you get the BTEA?

Getting the BTEA depends on:

  • what course you are hoping to do
  • how long you have been receiving the specific social welfare payment
  • your age (see more below).

BTEA categorises the Level 5 to 8 courses as follows.

Level 5 and Level 6 courses are carried out in further education and training settings

If you want to get the BTEA and you are planning to do a Level 5 or Level 6 course, you must have been getting the qualifying social welfare payment for at least 3 months (78 paid or certified days of unemployment) immediately before you start the course.

Level 7 and Level 8 courses are carried out in third-level colleges

If you want to get the BTEA and you are planning to do a Level 7 or Level 8 course, you must have been getting the qualifying social welfare payment for at least 9 months (234 paid or certified days of unemployment) before you start the course.

What age do you need to be?

The BTEA is aimed at people over the age of 21. So, as long as you have been getting the qualifying payment for the periods mentioned above (3 months or 9 months) it should work out for you.

If you are aged between 18 and 20 and have been out of secondary school for more than two years, you can still get the BTEA. So, if you are under 21 keep this in mind.

For a full overview of BTEA check out the Citizen’s Information section on BTEA.

And if you need to speak to someone, the staff in your local social welfare office or Citizen’s Information or local Education Training Board (ETB Map) office will be able to help you.

The One Parent Family Payment (OFP) is a social welfare payment for people who are bringing up children without the support of a partner. You can get all the information about the OFP on the Citizens Information website. This is just a brief outline of what to do if you are receiving the OFP and want to go to college to study full-time.

The rules around the OFP can change each year, so we recommend you ask in your local social welfare office for the most up-to-date information.

Once you receive an offer of a place on a full-time course in college, you must tell your local social welfare office that you intend to return to education. You will be offered the option of remaining on the OFP or going on to the Back to Education Allowance (see above).

The benefits of remaining on the OFP mean that you will continue to receive your weekly support, but you can also apply to SUSI to receive your monthly payment as well. This payment can vary depending on a number of things, for example how far you have to travel to the college. So, some people can receive €140 a month, while others get €250 and some may even get more than that.

Remember: if you switch from the OFP payment to the Back to Education Allowance you will not get the maintenance grant part of SUSI, as you will be receiving the Back to Education Allowance instead. People on the BTEA can apply to SUSI to have their fees covered but they won’t receive the monthly payment of the maintenance grant.

We encourage you to talk to the staff in Citizens Information, the local social welfare office or the staff in your local Education Training Board (ETB map).

The Student Assistance Fund provides financial support to full or part-time students who are experiencing financial difficulties while attending college. Students can apply for the Student Assistance Fund to help with either temporary or ongoing financial difficulties.

The Student Assistance Fund (SAF) is a financial support for students to help cover the living expenses on your journey through college. The SAF can cover:

  • Tuition fees
  • Registration fees
  • Student loan repayments
  • Any costs as a result of being in college.

Read the most up-to-date information on the Student Assistance Fund.

Check which colleges are taking part in the Student Assistance Fund, as they will have information available on their websites.

There are a number of scholarships, or financial supports available to help you access college. Scholarships, grants (also bursaries) are types of financial assistance that you don’t have to pay back. Scholarships are typically based on merit, while grants and bursaries usually take financial need into consideration.

Some scholarships, grants and bursaries are also based on:

  • Academic achievement
  • Athletic skill
  • Extra-curricular involvement
  • Special abilities.

The most widely known scholarships available to college students are below.

The Third Level Bursary Scheme

The Third Level Bursary Scheme has been set up for the top-performing Leaving Certificate students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The bursaries are awarded on a regional basis. A minimum of 10 bursaries will be offered in each of the following four regions:

  • Dublin City and County
  • The rest of Leinster
  • Munster
  • Connacht/Ulster.

As part of the Third Level Bursary Scheme 2019, eight bursaries, two in each of the regions mentioned above, will be awarded to eligible students who pursue an approved college course in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM). These are called the Ernest Walton STEM Bursaries.

Check out this information booklet for more information.

Uversity Higher Education Scholarships for Adult learners

Uversity’s scholarships are intended to unlock adult learners’ potential. (Uversity is the correct spelling so we didn’t make a mistake.) They aim to remove the financial barriers for someone who is doing a degree for the first time. Scholarships are not limited to particular subject areas. They will enable people who are 23 years or older to complete a degree in one of the colleges taking part in the Republic of Ireland or in Northern Ireland.

Check out the Uversity website for more information.

The All Ireland Scholarship Scheme

Each year, this annual scholarship scheme provides college scholarships to 100 top performing eligible Leaving Certificate students from less advantaged backgrounds. This scheme will continue to operate while the All Ireland Scholarships Trust Fund remains in place. The All Ireland Scholarships Trust provides funding for 100 scholarships in Ireland each year.

For more information on the scholarship check out the All Ireland Scholarship Scheme Website.

St Vincent de Paul Education Grant

The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) recognises the importance of further education. However, for many people accessibility and affordability are real barriers to a college education and training.

The SVP Education and Training Bursary Fund has been set up to support students of all ages who may be financially struggling to access or stay in college education and training programmes.

If you are interested in this grant, please know that you must show that they have applied for all available state funding or other grants. Information on other sources of funding is available on the SVP Student Finance website.

If you would like more information on how you can apply to the SVP Education and Training Bursary Programme, contact your regional office of the St Vincent de Paul.

Please note, SVP can only give bursary awards when it has the funds.

Other sources of funding in your area

Financial supports may also be available in your local area. When you are researching supports available, check with your local Credit Union or Community Development Companies. There may be a pot of money available at the time you are applying for college.

Contact us in College Connect

Don’t forget to contact College Connect for more support or advice.