College Funding – Student Grant Scheme

College Funding – Student Grant Scheme

The Student Grant Scheme is the main financial support scheme for students. The Scheme is governed by legislation made under the Student Support Act 2011. Student grants are divided into maintenance grants, fee grants and the postgraduate contribution. This document only deals with undergraduates. Postgraduates can get information about financial assistance in our document, Postgraduate student grants.

The online application system is open from 25 April.

Maintenance grants

A maintenance grant is a contribution towards the student’s living costs. If you are getting a maintenance grant, you cannot get a Back to Education Allowance or VTOS allowance.

Maintenance grants are available for approved courses below graduate level in Ireland and other EU member states.

Fee grants

A fee grant can cover any of the following 3 elements:

  • All or part of the student contribution
  • Costs of essential field trips
  • All or part of a student’s tuition fees (unless covered by the Free Fees Scheme)

In general, if you qualify for a maintenance grant you will qualify for all elements of the fee grant. However, you will not get the tuition element of a fee grant if you already qualify for free tuition under the Free Fees Schemes.

You may qualify for a fee grant, but not a maintenance grant, if you are a ‘tuition student’ under the Student Grant Scheme. A tuition student is someone who fulfils all the conditions for a student grant except for residence in the State, but who has been resident in an EEA state or Switzerland for 3 of the last 5 years.

Students doing Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses do not get fee grants, but if you qualify for a maintenance grant you will be exempt from the PLC participant contribution.

Fee grants are available for approved courses below graduate level in Ireland. However, there are no fee grants for courses elsewhere in the EU.

See ‘Approved courses and institutions’ below for further detail.

Qualifying for a student grant

To qualify for a student grant, you must fulfil the conditions of the Scheme as regards:

  • Nationality and immigration status
  • Residence
  • Means

You must also be attending an approved course in an approved institution – see ‘Approved courses and institutions’ below.

There are detailed conditions about the level of the course you are attending; whether you have attended a course at the same level already; and whether the course represents progression from your previous studies.

In general, you will not get a grant for repeating a year or attending a course at a level that does not represent progression from what you have done before. However, second-chance students may be eligible for a grant. A second-chance student is someone who is aged over 23, did not successfully complete an earlier course and is returning to pursue an approved course after a full break in studies of at least 5 years. You may do a course during this 5-year break and still qualify as a second-chance student, if the course was below undergraduate level and meets the rules regarding progression.

If you qualify for a maintenance grant, you will qualify for all relevant elements of a fee grant. You may qualify for a fee grant, but not a maintenance grant, if you are what is called a tuition student under the Student Grant Scheme.

A tuition student is someone who fulfils all the conditions for a student grant except for residence in the State, but who has been resident in an EEA member state or Switzerland for 3 of the last 5 years.

Nationality and immigration status

In order to get a student grant you must be a national of an EEA member state or Switzerland, or have immigration status or leave to remain which is one of the following:

  • Family member of one of the above, with permission to remain in the State as a family member of that person under the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015 and EU Treaty rights provisions
  • Refugee status
  • Humanitarian leave to remain in the State before the Immigration Act 1999 came into effect. Foreign nationals granted leave to remain under the Irish Born Child scheme – IBC/05 are not eligible.
  • Permission to reside in the State under the European Union (Subsidiary Protection) Regulations 2013.
  • Permission to remain following a determination not to make a deportation order
  • Permission to remain in the State by virtue of marriage to, or civil partnership with, an Irish national living here or be the dependent child of a person with this permission

Since 1 September 2015, school leavers who have been in the asylum protection system for 5 years and meet certain criteria can apply for student supports under the Pilot Student Support Scheme.


You must have been resident in the State for 3 of the previous 5 years to qualify for a maintenance grant. However, if you are temporarily resident elsewhere in the EU in order to pursue a course of study for a recognised qualification, and you were resident in the State for 3 of the 5 years before starting that course, you satisfy this requirement.

If you fulfil all the criteria for a maintenance grant except for the residence condition in the State, you may still qualify for a fee grant or a postgraduate fee contribution as a tuition student.

Means test

The means test for a student grant in 2019-2020 is based on you or your family’s gross income for the previous full tax year (2018). However, if you or your family have had a change of circumstances (which is likely to be permanent) since 31 December 2018, your changed circumstances will be taken into account.

Reckonable income for a student grant is gross income from all sources. Some social welfare payments are excluded from ‘reckonable income’ for the purposes of student grants – see more details on reckonable income on and also in the Student Grant Scheme 2019 (pdf).

If you were ordinarily resident with your parent(s) from October 1 of the year before the year of entry to the course, you are considered dependent on your parent(s) and your income (if any) is assessed together with your parents’ income(s). An allowance is made for your earnings outside of term-time – up to €4,500. Outside term time is 2 weeks at Christmas, 2 weeks at Easter and 12 weeks during the summer months of June, July and August only. (Holiday pay earned outside these periods may also be allowed by the grant awarding authority on receipt of a letter from the school/college confirming the exact dates of term).

Independent mature candidates are candidates aged 23 or over on 1 January in the year of entry to the course. To be assessed as an independent mature candidate you must also live separately from your parents from 1 October of the year before the year of entry to the course. If you are an independent student, you are assessed on your own income (and that of your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant, if applicable).

The only points at which you can be reclassified from a dependent student to an independent student are when you:

  • Progress from further education to higher education or
  • Have a 3-year break in your studies or
  • Are returning as a second-change student after a 5-year break in your studies.

Income limits for maintenance grant and full fee grant

The family income limits for eligibility for a maintenance grant in 2019-2020 are set out below. These income limits are applied after your means are assessed – see ‘Means test’ above. The income limits also apply to the fee grant (that is, if you don’t qualify for the free fees scheme and are eligible for a fee grant).

Number of dependent children Full maintenance Part maintenance (75%) Part maintenance (50%) Part maintenance (25%)
Less than 4 €39,875 €40,970 €43,380 €45,790
4 to 7 €43,810 €45,025 €47,670 €50,325
8 or more €47,575 €48,890 €51,760 €54,630

Income limits for partial fee grant

The family income limits for eligibility for a partial fee grant in 2019-2020 are set out below.

Number of dependent children 50% tuition fees and 100% student contribution 50% student contribution only
Fewer than 4 €49,840 €54,240
4 to 7 €54,765 €59,595
8 or more €59,455 €64,700

The 50% tuition fee is not payable if your fees are covered under the Free Fees Scheme.

Other family members in college

The reckonable income limits may be increased as follows for each additional family member who is pursuing a full-time course of at least one year’s duration:

  • In full maintenance and partial fee grant categoriesby €4,830
  • In part maintenance 75%, 50% and 25% categoriesby €4,670

If you are an independent applicant, the family member taken into account is your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant. If you are dependent on your parents, the family members taken into account are your parent(s) and their other dependent children.

Special rates of grants for disadvantaged students

Disadvantaged students who meet a number of conditions can qualify for a special rate of maintenance grant.

Applicants must have qualified for the standard maintenance grant for the academic year 2019-2020 and total reckonable income in the tax year January to December 2018 must not be more than €24,000, not including Qualified Child Increases and standard exclusions.

For students, including mature students, who are assessed on parent(s)/guardian(s) income, their parent(s)/guardian(s) must, on 31 December 2018, have been:

  • Receiving long-term social welfare payments, or
  • Receiving Working Family Payment or
  • Participating in designated programmes (for example, a Community Employment Scheme).

These payments and programmes are listed in Schedule 2 of the Student Grant Scheme 2019 (pdf).

For students who are assessed on their own income, on 31 December 2018 the student must have been getting one of these social welfare payments or participating in a designated programme.


Maintenance grant rates

Type Non-adjacent rate Adjacent rate
Special rate €5,915 €2,375
Full Maintenance €3,025 €1,215
Part maintenance (75%) €2,270 €910
Part maintenance (50%) €1,515 €605
Part maintenance (25%) €755 €305

Adjacent and non-adjacent rates

For students who live 45 kilometres or less from the college they attend, the adjacent rate of maintenance grant is payable. This rate applies to all students living within this distance, including all mature students, both dependent and independent.

The non-adjacent rate applies to everyone else.

How to apply

Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) is the single grant-awarding authority handling all applications for student grants. You must make your grant application online. You do not need to know the course you will be attending to apply online.

To register with SUSI and apply online for a student grant, you will need your Personal Public Service (PPS) number, an email address and a phone number.

You can use your verified MyGovID account to automatically create and log in to your SUSI account without having to register directly with SUSI. To find out more about MyGovID, you can visit

SUSI has a helpdesk for email and telephone queries – see ‘Where to apply’ below.

You can use SUSI’s online application tracker to get the most up-to-date information about your student grant application and confirm that your supporting documentation has been received.

Supporting documentation

If you are considered eligible on initial assessment of your application, you will get a provisional grant approval in the post and a personalised list of the supporting documents that you need to provide. You should send the necessary documents (photocopies, not originals) as soon as possible in the envelope supplied.

SUSI will then process your application to award stage, subject to confirmation of your acceptance on an approved course.

Appealing a decision

If you think that you have been unjustly refused a grant, you may appeal online to SUSI. You must appeal within 30 days of getting your decision. If your appeal is turned down, and you feel that the conditions have not been interpreted correctly, you can make a further appeal.

Further appeals

If you are not satisfied with the decision from an appeals officer in SUSI, you can make a further appeal to the Student Grants Appeals Board. You should submit your appeal online to the Student Grants Appeals Board. Your appeal must be submitted within 30 days from the date of the letter from the appeals officer in SUSI.

Where to apply

The Online Application System for the 2019/20 academic year is open from 25 April 2019.

Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI)

Tel: 0761 08 7874

Approved courses and institutions

In general, the Student Grant Scheme covers all the approved courses and institutions covered by the 4 schemes it replaced. The approved institutions and courses are listed in Schedule 1 and 2 of the Student Support Regulations 2019 (pdf).

Other financial supports for students

There is detailed information on the range of grants and funds for students in further and higher education on the website including the Fund for Students with Disabilities, the Student Assistance Fund and some third-level scholarships.

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