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Financial Supports for Education

Useful websites:

  • SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland) information and application for the Student Maintenance Grant
  • (Information on financial support for further & higher education)
  • (Information on the maintenance grant schemes)
  • (Information on the Back to Education Allowance)
  • (Information on your rights and entitlements)

The following is information on the main financial supports for full time Further Education (PLC)/ Third Level courses.  Please refer to the above websites for comprehensive information.

Student Maintenance Grants
The maintenance grant is a means tested payment, available for each year of the course, to people attending approved post leaving certificate and third level education courses.  Two elements of the grant are - cover of the student registration fee for third level colleges up to €3,000 and a maintenance payment, designed to cover any additional costs e.g. accommodation, books, travel, childcare etc.  A variety of eligibility requirements include family income in the tax year previous to starting the course, residency status and first time entry to the particular education level.  Recipients of the Back to Education Allowance may only be eligible for the third level college student contribution assistance from this grant. 

All new applicants must now apply online to a single awarding authority, Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) through  The online facility is now available for learners attending courses for the academic year commencing September 2016. Application deadline is 1st August 2016.

As part of SUSI’s support to students, there is a support desk available.  You can email the SUSI Support Desk at or telephone 0761 08 7874

The Support Desk is available from 9.00am-5.30pm (Monday-Friday) 

Back to Education Allowance
The Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) is a scheme whereby the Department of Social Protection allows those in receipt of certain payments to retain them while returning full time to an approved second or third level course of education.

BTEA information booklets and application forms are available from:

  • Local Department of Social Protection Office – Carlow (059) 9170170
  • Department of Social Protection website - or from the Citizens Information website 
  • Department of Social Protection LoCall Leaflet request line at 1890 20 23 25

Free-Fees Initiative – Higher Education Institutions
Please note there is a student contribution fee of €3,000 for courses in Carlow College, Institute of Technology Carlow and all other Third Level Institutions. This is a charge separate to tuition fees and is paid at the start of each year of the course.

Currently approved third level courses are free to first-time undergraduates and those who hold E.U. nationality or official refugee status and have been ordinarily resident in an E.U. Member State for at least three of the five years preceding their entry to an approved third level course.

N.B.   It is important to keep up-to-date with any new changes to the free-fees initiative which may be introduced.

Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS)
Check with your local VTOS Centre to see if you meet the eligibility requirements for limited funding for attendance at a Post Leaving Certificate course.  

Higher Education Institution Access Initiative - Student Assistance Fund
The Student Assistance Fund exists to support students experiencing genuine financial difficulty.  The fund is available in certain Higher Education Institutions to all registered students.  You should contact the Access Officer or Mature Student Officer (if you are over 23 years of age) in the college, which you are attending, if you are having difficulty in covering your costs.

Fund for students with disabilities
This fund aims to assist students with disabilities in third-level institutions and Post Leaving Certificate Colleges to participate in further and higher education.  Grants are provided for students who have serious sensory, physical and/or communicative disabilities.

Applications for funding should be made by the individual student through their Higher Education Institution/ Further Education (PLC) College.  Students are advised to contact the Access/Disability Officer in their institution, or the Principal of their Further Education College.

Exemptions from the Further Education (PLC) course participant contribution
Depending on your circumstances, you may be exempt from this €200 charge.

Other possible sources of education funding

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