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Student Assistance Fund

    Student Assistance Fund

    The Student Assistance Fund provides financial assistance for students in higher education who are experiencing financial difficulties whilst attending college.

    Students can apply for Student Assistance to help them with either temporary or ongoing financial difficulties. The Student Assistance Fund provides a further source of funding for higher education students in addition to the Student Grant.

    Each year, the State allocates a certain amount of Student Assistance funding to all approved higher education colleges based on the size of the college’s full-time student population. Students in need of financial support can then make application in the college for assistance under the Fund. The Student Assistance Fund is not available in further education/PLC colleges.

    To find out whether you may be eligible for the Fund you need to be aware of the main conditions of the programme. The information below will assist you in this process. Each section below will guide you through the eligibility requirements of the fund.

    The Student Assistance Fund is co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014 – 2020’.

    The following higher education colleges operate a Student Assistance Fund for eligible students. Most participating colleges have further information on their website on the operation of the Student Assistance Fund at local level.

    Dublin City University
    Maynooth University
    National University of Ireland, Galway
    Trinity College Dublin
    University College Cork
    University College Dublin
    University of Limerick
    Athlone Institute of Technology
    Cork Institute of Technology
    Dublin Institute of Technology
    Dundalk Institute of Technology
    Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology
    Galway Mayo Institute of Technology
    Institute of Technology Blanchardstown
    Institute of Technology Carlow
    Institute of Technology Sligo
    Institute of Technology Tallaght
    Institute of Technology Tralee
    Letterkenny Institute of Technology
    Limerick Institute of Technology
    Waterford Institute of Technology
    Church of Ireland College of Education
    Marino Institute of Education
    Mary Immaculate College
    National College of Art and Design
    National College of Ireland
    St Patrick’s College Maynooth
    Royal College of Surgeons Ireland
    St Angela’s College


    In order to be eligible to apply for student assistance funding a student must be:

    Participating in a course in a university, institute of technology or other approved college.
    Registered on

    • a full-time course, of not less than one year in duration, leading to a higher education award at level 6-10 of the national framework of qualifications


    • a part-time course leading to a higher education award at level 6-10 of the national framework of qualifications

    Student must not be pursuing a second qualification at the same or a lower level.

    Eligible Expenses
    The Student Assistance Fund typically provides financial assistance to students who are having difficulty covering the following kinds of expenses:

    Class materials
    Heating/lighting bills
    Travel of an urgent or essential nature
    Medical expenses, i.e. doctor or dental visits
    Expenses associated with family breakdown
    Expenses associated with bereavement
    Expenses associated with accidents
    Compulsory study abroad
    (This is not a definitive list)

    Students requiring financial assistance to help with tuition fees or registration fees cannot be considered under the Student Assistance Fund.

    Currently, each participating institution decides how the Student Assistance Fund will be operated at local level, within the overall guidelines set by the Department of Education and Skills. The application process may vary therefore between participating institutions.

    All colleges have an application form which must be completed by students wishing to apply for Student Assistance.

    Applicants may be required to attend a meeting with a member of the college staff to discuss the application. Applicants may also be required to provide documentation to verify details of the income and outgoings provided in the application.

    In general, due to demand for Student Assistance, participating colleges are not able to approve all applications they receive. Likewise, participating colleges may not be able to award all the funding being sought by successful applicants. The Department of Education and Skills requires colleges to target the Student Assistance Fund at those students most in need of financial support. This may mean, for example, that priority is given to applicants who are in receipt of a maintenance grant, this being an indicator of limited means. In 2017, additional funding has been allocated to SAF for the support of part-time students who are lone parents or members of the other access target groups.

    Further Information

    Student services or Access staff in participating institutions can provide further information on the fund. Lastly, the list of participating colleges provided earlier in this section has web links to further information on institutions’ websites.