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Back to Education Allowance - Second Level

Find out if you're entitled to attend a second-level course under the BTEA


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in education


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Have you ever thought about returning to second-level edication after leaving school early the first time around? 

If you're over 21 and either unemployed, parenting alone, or you have a disability, and you receive certain payments from the Department of Social Protection, then you could be eligible for the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA).

This could give you the opportunity to attend a second-level course at any secondary, community, comprehensive or vocational school.

What kind of course can I do?

The course must be full-time and lead to a certificate recognised by the Department of Education and Skills or approved by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), for example:

  • Junior Certificate 
  • Leaving Certificate
  • Post Leaving Certificate
  • City and Guilds Certificate.
  • An Access or Foundation course is considered to be a second-level course for BTEA purposes.

How do I qualify?

In general, to qualify for the BTEA you must be over 21 and have been getting a qualifying social welfare payment. You must have been accepted onto a qualifying course.

However, if you are aged between 18 and 20, are getting Jobseeker's Allowance, Jobseeker's Benefit, Jobseeker's Transitional payment or One-Parent Family Payment for the required period (3 months, 9 months or 12 months), and have been out of the formal education system for at least 2 years, you may qualify.

If you are aged 18 or over and getting Blind Pension, Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension or Incapacity Supplement for the required period (3 months or 9 months), you may also qualify.

Qualifying social welfare payments

How long do I have to be receiving payments before I qualify?

For second level courses you must have been getting a qualifying social welfare payment for at least 3 months. You must be getting the qualifying payment immediately before you start the course. 

You do not have to have been getting your qualifying payment continuously. If you've been on other qualifying social welfare payments or getting credits over a period of time that was not broken up by up to 12 months, this can be used towards determining if you qualify for BTEA.

Other payments that can count towards you qualifying for the BTEA include time spent on:

This provision only applies where you have established an entitlement to a qualifying social welfare payment immediately before you start your course of study.

How do I apply?

  • First off, contact your local school or college and ask for details of the courses available. 
  • It's your responsibility to get a place on the course of your choice. Don't leave it to the last few days, as panic is a recipe for bad decisions on your future. If you want to start a course in September of any given year then get on the case in January and get a plan together.
  • When you have been accepted on a course, you should visit your local Intreo or Social Welfare Office. You will then be required to fill out a BTE 1 Form. Click here to find out how to fill out the BTE 1 form.

You must get written confirmation that you are registered as a full-time day student from the college registrar or admission officer. You will not get payment of BTEA until you give this confirmation letter to the Department of Social Protection.

You must apply for BTEA before your course starts (or within 30 days of the course starting).

For more information, check the welfare website.

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Published September 15th, 2016
Last updated November 10th, 2017
Tags education employment social welfare social welfare scheme
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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