College Financial Assistance & Support

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Entering college is a scary and complicated step for anyone; and if you’ve got a disability this adds to the daunting world of third level education. We’re here to show you how accessible it can be and how continuous developments are improving college environments so that getting the education you deserve is well within your reach. Read on for all the information you need. . .


What do I need to find out?

1/ If you have a disability you should make contact with the necessary officers in the college as early as possible; Universities have Disability Officers and most other colleges have Access Officers to deal with all your queries.

2/ Doing this will ensure that you will give the institution an acceptable amount of time to make any necessary provisions; such as organising extra examination time for you.

3/ You need to provide the officer with medical evidence of your disability.

4/ Investigate as much as possible with regards to the support available within the specific college; guaranteeing that you will receive the benefits provided for you.

5/ Find out if the college has an alternative admissions system; i. e. not CAO.

6/ The funding support available in the college.

7/ What documentation do you need to avail of funding; e. g. medical evidence.

8/ What kinds of educational support are available in the college; such as tutors or note-takers; etc.

9/ If you have mobile difficulties how is the access in the college; ramps etc.  Are all areas accessible?All these points can be clarified by the Disability or Access Services in the college of your choice


What exactly is the Disability/Access Service?

1/ It acts as a ‘middle-man’ between the student and other faculties such as administration or accommodation.

2/ It’s role is to ensure disabled students can participate fully in the everyday life of the college; a fully inclusive learning environment is the aim.

3/ Provides information for students on educational support; and also arranges it.

4/ Assists in the applications for funding.

5/ Organises the necessary support for exams.

6/ Is a beacon of on-going training/support.

7/ It focuses on developing college policies and procedures; promoting awareness and training programmes to staff is key. They also employ strong links with external disability organisations.


Anything else?

1/ Most services require a written confirmation of your disability from a recognised practitioner.

2/ Do so as early as possible to ensure full benefit of services offered.

3/ While you are under no obligation to disclose a disability; not doing so may hinder your development in the college; if you do choose to highlight it on your CAO form then you will receive a greater level of support.

4/ If a student doesn’t disclose a disability it makes it difficult or impossible for the college to facilitate properly for them.


Standard vs. non-standard entry?

Standard entry refers to the scenario when you obtain or expect to obtain the necessary Leaving Certificate points for a course; and qualify for a place in it as a result.

Non-standard entry applies when you feel you cannot compete equally in the Leaving Cert due to your disability or specific learning disability.

If as a result you don’t fulfil necessary admission criteria or don’t believe you will then the Supplementary Information Form (SIF) provides for this. The SIF is sent to those who highlight their disability on the CAO form; it provides potential students with an opportunity to highlight the support that they may need and apply for a number of Higher Education Institutions that give non-standard entry routes. The criterion considered typically consists of a number of factors including your overall academic achievements and the impact of your disability on your academic performance; which is evaluated by your personal statement and your principal’s report.

Successful applicants of this non-standard route are notified through the first and second round of the CAO. 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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