Student Grant Scheme

Introduction

The Student Grant Scheme is the main financial support scheme for students studying in Ireland and abroad.

Student grants are divided into:

  • Maintenance grants
  • Fee grants

Maintenance grants help students with their living costs. Fee grants pay tuition fees for students who do not qualify for the Free Fees Scheme. Fee grants can also pay the Student Contribution and the cost of essential field trips.

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

If you qualify for the maintenance grant, you also get the fee grant. Some people only get a fee grant (see ‘How much will I get?’ below).

You cannot get some types of social welfare payments and the student grant. You can read about social welfare payments and the student grant.

You apply online through the Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) website. The online application system for the 2020-2021 academic year opened on 23 April 2020.

Postgraduates can get information about financial assistance in our document on postgraduate student grants.

Who qualifies for a student grant?

To qualify for a student grant, you must meet all the conditions of the scheme. These include:

  1. Nationality condition
  2. Residence condition
  3. Means test
  4. Approved course of study: you must be attending an approved course of study
  5. Progression: you must be progressing from your previous level of study
  6. Maximum period of grant assistance

We cover each of these conditions below.

1. Nationality condition

To get a student grant you must be a citizen of:

  • Ireland
  • UK
  • An EU or EEA country
  • Switzerland

If you are not a citizen of one of these countries, you may still qualify for a grant if:

  • You have refugee status.
  • You have subsidiary protection status.
  • You are the family member of an EU/EEA citizen.
  • You are the spouse, civil partner or dependent child of an Irish citizen.
  • You were granted ‘leave to remain’ under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999. This is also called residency following a notification of intention to deport.
  • You were granted ‘leave to remain’ under Section 49 of the International Protection Act 2015.
  • You were granted Humanitarian Leave to Remain before the commencement of the Immigration Act 1999.
  • You are an applicant for International Protection who qualifies for the Student Support Scheme for Asylum Seekers (see below).

You should have received a letter that states under what provision you have been granted residence. If you have residency that was granted for a reason other than those described above (for example, because you are the parent of an Irish citizen child) you do not qualify for a student grant, even if you have a Stamp 4.

Student Support Scheme for Asylum Seekers

The Student Support Scheme for Asylum Seekers provides supports in line with the Student Grant Scheme to students living in direct provision or who are in the international protection system.

You must meet the following criteria:

  • Meet the definition of a protection applicant or a person at leave to remain stage (other than those at the deportation order stage)
  • Have been accepted on an approved Post Leaving Certificate course or an approved undergraduate course
  • Have been part of an application for protection or leave to remain for a combined period of 3 years on 31 August 2020
  • Have been resident in the State for a combined period of 3 years on 31 August 2020

You can read more about how to apply for the Student Support Scheme for Asylum Seekers and download an application form. The closing date for 2020-2021 applications is 6 November 2020.

2. Residence condition

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.

3. Means test

The means test for a student grant in 2020-2021 is based on you or your family's gross income for the previous full tax year (2019). However, if you or your family have had a change of circumstances (which is likely to be permanent) since 31 December 2019, 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 susi.ie and also in the Student Grant Scheme 2020 (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 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 2020-2021 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 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 2020-2021 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 for each additional family member who is doing 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.

4. Approved course of study

You must be attending a course that is approved for a student grant. You can read a list of approved institutions and courses on SUSI's website.

5. Progression

In general, you do not get a grant for repeating a year or attending a course at a level that does not represent progression from your previous studies.

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 do 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 progression rules.

6. Maximum period of grant assistance

You do not qualify for the Student Grant Scheme if you have already got a grant for the maximum number of years allowed for the level of study you are undertaking.

How much will I get?

The rate you get depends on the following factors:

  • Your assessed means
  • The distance you normally live from the college you are going to attend
  • If you are a disadvantaged student

The means test (as described in ‘means test’ above) determines whether you qualify for a full or partial grant.

If you normally live 45 kilometres or less from your college you get the adjacent rate. If you live further away than 45 kilometres, you get the non-adjacent rate. This is based on the distance of where you ordinarily lived in the year before you started college.

Disadvantaged students can qualify for a special rate of maintenance grant. To qualify, you must fulfil all the normal criteria for the grant and have a total reckonable income in the tax year January to December 2019 of less than €24,500, 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 2019, have been:

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

These payments and programmes are listed in Schedule 2 of the Student Grant Scheme 2020 (pdf).

If you are assessed on your own income, on 31 December 2019 you must have been getting one of these social welfare payments or taking part in a designated programme.

The rates for the Student Grant Scheme for the academic year 2020/2021 are:

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

How to apply

The online application system for the 2020-2021 academic year opened on 23 April 2020.

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 what course you will be taking 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.

For the 2020-2021 academic year 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 mygovid.ie.

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.

Applications received before the priority closing dates will be prioritised for assessment by SUSI. The priority closing date for grant renewals is Thursday, 11 June 2020. The priority closing date for new grant applications is Thursday, 9 July 2020. You can still send your application in after these dates.

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

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 2020 (pdf).

Other financial supports for students

You can read more about the Fund for Students with Disabilities, the Student Assistance Fund and some third-level scholarships in our document on 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 studentfinance.ie.

Page edited: 14 August 2020