Application Procedure and Costs for Mature Students

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EU nationals who are returning to education as first-time undergraduates studying in Ireland are not required to pay course fees in further education and third level colleges. There are, however, registration and examination fees which are generally reasonable. A mature student is defined as a person who is 23 or above on the 1st January on the year of entry onto a third level course. Most higher education institutions require you to apply via the CAO (Central Applications Office) though some colleges require you to apply directly, and others require you to do both. You should check with the institution to which you are applying to see what you are required to do. You can also go to the CAO website at www. cao. ie for a list of institutions which require direct application. It is also worth noting that many institutions also require you to attend an interview.

Entry requirements onto undergraduate courses will vary from course to course and from person to person. Most institutions will usually take into account a student’s motivation, potential, prior academic achievement and skills gained through work and life experience. For those wishing to pursue a second degree programme tuition fees will not be paid. However, students who already hold a diploma or certificate and are progressing to a degree programme may be deemed eligible.

Students who have previously pursued but not completed a third level programme and resume third level education are not eligible for funding for the equivalent period of previous attendance unless they are returning after a break of five or more years. Tuition fees will not be paid for any part-time, modular or distance learning courses either. For those who fall into this category of having to pay their own tuition fees there is not much financial assistance available.

Relief at the standard rate of tax can be sought and applicants can also apply for a maintenance grant which, if awarded, can be used towards payment of fees. If applicants are still in need of financial assistance they can apply for a student loan from any of the major banks. is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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