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While there are significant costs involved in studying at third level in Ireland, there are also some ways in which students can get money to pay these costs. Most students survive thanks to a combination that includes the maintenance grant, family support, savings, working, loans and scholarships. The government maintenance grant is the first funding opportunity that most people think of.

However, not everybody is eligible for ‘The Grant’; it depends on the annual income of the student’s parents (or of the student themselves in the case of mature students). The amount available also depends on whether the student lives within commuting distance of their institution or not. The full rate of the maintenance grant for 2005/2006 was E3, 020, while the amount for “adjacent” students was only E1, 210.

Your Local Authority (corporation or county council) supplies Higher Education Grants. Forms and conditions are available from the local authority’s website, or you can ring up and ask them to send you information in the post. The closing date is August 31st, so students generally submit their form before they are sure of their college place. The form is considerably detailed and asks a lot of questions about your or your parents’ income and assets, so it’s important to give yourself plenty of time to get the information together.

Even if you do qualify for the maintenance grant it is unlikely to cover the entire cost of a year at college or university. Many students rely on parental or other family support, but not everyone is in a position to do this. Many students take on part-time work during college, but it can be difficult to juggle work and study commitments. Some higher level courses are very work intensive, and when students aren’t at lectures or in the laboratory they are supposed to be in the library or studying at home. Other courses are less exhaustive. Working part-time doesn’t necessarily mean that you will fail your course, but it could, for example, mean the difference between a 1. 1 and 2. 1 degree.

Many students work hard during the summer to accumulate as much money as they can to keep them going throughout the year. This is an especially good option if you can secure a job that is related to your course or area of study. However, working all summer can cut into J1 or other travelling plans. Most colleges offer a small number of scholarships or bursaries for students to help cover cost of living. These are generally linked to particular courses or subjects, and go to students with outstanding academic results.

Those with sporting or other excellence can also take advantage of special schemes designed to reward people who are prominent in their particular fields. The Irish government also awards scholarships to the students who get the best results in the Irish Leaving Cert each year (you are looking at 600 odd points to be eligible). Read college prospectuses and websites carefully to find out what you might be able to receive.

There are also other schemes where students from less advantaged backgrounds can be offered extra support to help them move on to higher education. Each university, and some of the other colleges, have Access offices that support students in financial and other ways.

Visit for further information about sources of funding 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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