Fund­ing for col­lege

Wexford People - - NEWS -

I’m un­em­ployed and plan­ning to go to col­lege. What fund­ing is avail­able for this? Most un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents at­tend­ing publicly funded third-level cour­ses for the first time will qual­ify for the Free Fees Ini­tia­tive.

You must meet cri­te­ria as re­gards res­i­dence, na­tion­al­ity and im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus, as well as course re­quire­ments. If you qual­ify for free fees, you do not have to pay tu­ition fees. In ad­di­tion to fees, there is a sep­a­rate stu­dent con­tri­bu­tion, which you pay to the col­lege.

The stu­dent grant is the main fi­nan­cial sup­port for stu­dents. The grant can cover all or part of your fees (if they are not al­ready cov­ered) and the stu­dent con­tri­bu­tion and it can also pro­vide some main­te­nance. To qual­ify for a grant, you and your course must meet cer­tain cri­te­ria and you must pass a means test.

The Back to Ed­u­ca­tion Al­lowance is avail­able to peo­ple who have been get­ting cer­tain so­cial wel­fare pay­ments for a set pe­riod of time be­fore start­ing their course. You can­not get a Back to Ed­u­ca­tion Al­lowance and the main­te­nance por­tion of a stu­dent grant at the same time. If you are el­i­gi­ble for both, you should find out which would be of more ben­e­fit to you.

The Free Fees Ini­tia­tive, the stu­dent grant and the Back to Ed­u­ca­tion Al­lowance all have rules re­gard­ing pro­gres­sion from pre­vi­ous stud­ies. How­ever, there are ex­cep­tions. If you in­tend to start a course at a level you have stud­ied be­fore, you should check whether the rules on pro­gres­sion ap­ply to your sit­u­a­tion.

If you do not qual­ify for the Free Fees Ini­tia­tive or the stu­dent grant, you should find out whether Spring­board can help you to re­turn to ed­u­ca­tion. Spring­board pro­vides free higher ed­u­ca­tion cour­ses re­lated to spe­cific ar­eas in which there are em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties. If you have to pay tu­ition fees and a stu­dent con­tri­bu­tion, you may qual­ify for tax re­lief. You can find out more about sources of fund­ing, in­clud­ing the Stu­dent As­sis­tance Fund for stu­dents ex­pe­ri­enc­ing fi­nan­cial hard­ship, on stu­dent­fi­nance.ie.

Fur­ther in­for­ma­tion is avail­able from the Cit­i­zens In­for­ma­tion Ser­vice be­low.

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