Options available to third-level and postgraduate students.
There have been major changes to the grant schemes in recent years. In autumn 2011, the four main grant schemes (Higher Education Grants Scheme, Vocational Education Committees' Scholarship, Third Level Maintenance Grant Scheme for Trainees and Maintenance Grant Scheme for Students Attending Post Leaving Certificate Courses) were replaced by one single grant scheme. This scheme is simply called 'Student Grant Scheme'.
Student Maintenance Grant:
- The first funding option to check out is a grant. From the academic year 2012/2013 onwards, all grants are applied for through the new grant authority, Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) through studentfinance.ie. Grant renewals (i.e. for people who got grants before the academic year 2012/2013) are handled through local authorities and VECs. If you're eligible for a grant, the grant cheque will be sent to your university for collection. Your parent's income dictates whether you get a grant or not.
- You have to fill in a means test form to apply for a grant. This checks your income or the income of your parents in order to decide if you get a grant and if so, how much money you get. From the academic year 2012/2013 onwards, you must apply for a grant online through SUSI.
- If you work (legally and paying tax) during the summer or while studying, this income will also be counted when you apply for a grant.
- You cannot get a maintenance grant if you are on a Back to Education Allowance or a VTOS allowance.
- You are eligible if you're applying for a full time course, are 17 or over and are a resident of Ireland. You must also have been living in Ireland for the past three out of five years. If you have EU nationality or official refugee status, then you may also apply.
- You can apply for a grant if you're studying in another EU country.
- You need to apply for the grant BEFORE 31 August.
- Bear in mind that there can be significant delays in processing grants. Therefore you might have to budget carefully before your grant money comes in. Even a full grant will not see you through college, as the grant only provides financial assistance. Further information can be found here.
- The value of capital assets will be taken into account from 2013 onwards. This means that if you own land, property or buildings, the value of this will be taken into account when you apply for a grant.
- There were significant changes made to the postgraduate grant scheme in January 2012. If you are qualified as a 'special rate' student (which means both parents are on jobseekers allowance or other social welfare payments) the government will pay your entire tuition fee, however they will no longer pay any grant money. A further 4000 students whose parents are also on low incomes will receive a €2000 tuition contribution, but their full tuition fees will not be paid. They will also not be entitled to any maintenance grant.
- Five of the current scholarship schemes were replaced by one bursary scheme in January 2012.
- Overall, these changes mean that most post graduate students do not receive much tuition fee help and that there are no maintenance grants for post graduate students at all.
- Your grant is re-assessed each year, so if your financial circumstances change, you may no longer be eligible for a grant. The body that awarded your grant will be in touch to renew or re-assess your grant at this time.
- The scholarship is means tested and follows a lot of the same conditions as the grant.
- If you're in an approved undergraduate or post-graduate course from these institutions, you might be eligible.
- If you've completed a course at National Certificate or Diploma level and are going on to a university course you might be eligible.
- BTEC Higher National Diploma (HND) courses in some colleges in Ireland and Northern Ireland are covered by the scholarship.
- You need to apply for the scholarship BEFORE 31 August.
- If you qualify for a maintenance grant, you will also qualify for a fee grant.
- If you are a 'tuition student' (not currently living in Ireland, but have been living in an European Economic Area state for three out of the last five years), you may qualify for a fee grant, but not a maintenance grant.
- Further information can be found here.
- Depending on the type of course you're going to do, you might be eligible for a maintenance grant for trainees or a grant for students attending post Leaving Cert courses.
- You are not eligible for these grants if you already have a degree, are studying for a degree at the moment or have completed more than the first year of a degree.
- Further information can be found on the Citizens' Information website and here.
Northern Ireland grants:
- Maintenance grants are means tested (they depend on your parent’s income) and you need to be a resident in the UK for at least three years to apply for a grant.
- You can also apply for supplementary grants which include dependents’ allowance, single parent student’s allowance, disabled student’s allowance, travel grants, two homes grants and grants for students who’ve been in custody or care.
- If you live in Ireland, but study in Northern Ireland or Britain, then you can apply for a grant at home.
Avoid delays in getting your grant or scholarship:
- Make sure you fill in the grant application form correctly and without leaving empty spaces. If you have any questions, call the authority in charge of your grant applications.
- The grant authority contacting you for more details of documents that you forgot to include can cause delays.
- Don’t be late sending in your grant application. This will also cause delays. Apply for the grant when you’re waiting for a CAO or UCAS offer.
- You are going to have to show documents about your parents’ income, so leave plenty of time for getting these.
Stuff to remember:
- If your grant is delayed, you might be able to get a grant advance from your bank. This is an interest free loan for up to nine months, so long as you can prove that you’ll eventually get a grant.
- The grant may cover your college registration fee. If the grant is late, there’s a risk that your college or uni will ask for a late payments fee. Check this at the College Fees office where you pick up your grant cheque.
- The grant isn’t usually paid on repeat years unless you can prove that illness caused you to repeat.
- The grant is paid into your bank account each month.
- The grant isn’t enough money to live on. You’re going to have to use savings from a summer job, a part-time job, support from parents or bank loans to get through college with more than beans to eat!