Is College calling? Financial supports for full time college and further education students

SUSI have been accepting grant applications since April on their website

Is College calling? Financial supports for full time college and further education students

Thurles Info Centre

Leaving Cert results and college offers will soon be landing in many peoples inboxes and the question of how to finance full time third level studies will be puzzling students and their parents.

Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) award further and higher education grants to eligible students, from school leavers to mature students returning to education, in approved full time third level courses.

SUSI have been accepting grant applications since April on their website Many people may not have yet applied or may not be aware that they may be eligible for a grant.

Also if you have been getting an unemployment payment, been made redundant or are getting PUP (Pandemic Unemployment payment) you may qualify for the Back to Education Allowance to support yourself as you attend a course. Students or anyone who pays the students college fees can claim tax relief on these fees paid to assume the student is attending an approved course at an approved college, conditions apply.

According to Tipperary Citizens Information Service Development Manager Mary Plunkett “Most first time undergraduate students attending publicly funded third-level courses do not have to pay tuition fees under the terms of the Free Fees Initiative. The Department of Education and Skills pay the fees to the colleges instead.

A separate annual student contribution fee is payable to colleges for the costs of student services and examinations which will be covered if you qualify the SUSI Grant Scheme”.

Olive Loughnane Information Officer Thurles Citizens Information Centre stated “There are several different criteria which will determine if you’re eligible for the SUSI Grant Scheme, for example, you must be increasing your NFQ (National Framework of Qualifications) level, you must be attending an approved course and your reckonable income must be below a certain amount for your personal circumstances. I would encourage students to use the eligibility reckoner on the SUSI website to see whether they meet the criteria for the SUSI Grant Scheme”

One parent told us: “My son is a bright chap and got his college place in 2020 and was very excited about starting his new adult life away from home. However, he hadn’t a clue about how his Dad and I were going to finance this big new adventure. He had to make the application so I contacted my local CIC so I could understand the process. They helped calculate our means and assured me that he would get the grant. It doesn’t cover everything but knowing he was going to get it allowed us to plan our finances. Thanks a million to the local CIC for clarifying things for us”

Citizens Information Centres are funded by the Citizens Information Board. They provide free, impartial and confidential information, advice and advocacy services to the public on social services, rights and entitlements.

Information Officers in our Citizens Information Centres throughout the county are available to answer any queries you may have about the SUSI grant scheme, Back to Education Allowance or any related questions.

We are available from Monday to Friday and while our drop-in service is not currently available due to Covid-19, our centres are still staffed and we are assisting clients by phone and email and have limited face-to-face appointments.

We can be contacted at 0761 07 6510 and or visit our website, www.citizens which is packed full of useful information.

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