Going to college can be very expensive with fees and accommodation costs amounting to considerable sums and this is before living costs and other study related costs are factored in. There are however several avenues for students to explore that can help with the burden. The is taking the time to find out what is out there and applying got them on time.
What does SUSI stand for?
SUSI stands for Student Universal Support Ireland and is Ireland’s national awarding authority for all further and higher education grants. Approximately 100,000 people applied last year for a grant and 80,000 were successful.
Can you get a grant for any course?
SUSI will provide funding in some way for most courses in the CAO system, for PLC courses as well as for many British and European courses. Generally, private college courses are not eligible for SUSI, while further education courses in Northern Ireland must be HND level or higher.
What costs does the grant cover?
There are two parts to a SUSI grant.
- College fees (SUSI does not cover PLC course fees however these are generally very reasonable) – typically €3000 per year for a CAO course)
- Maintenance grant – for accommodation and living expenses.
How would I know if I am eligible?
SUSI grants are means tested. On the SUSI website there is a very easy to use Eligibility Reckoner which will quickly tell you whether or not you are eligible.
The key elements are:
- Are you an Irish, EU, EAA, British or Swiss citizen who has been resident for 3 of the last 5 years?
- Do you intend studying an approved course (Level 5 or above) for the first time?
- Is your Household Income (Parent(s)/Guardian(s) + your own) lower than the relevant SUSI limit for your family.
How much could I be entitled to?
This all depends on where you are studying, the course you are studying, your Household Income level and the number of dependents in your house. There is a Non-Adjacent rate for those studying more than 45km from their home and an Adjacent rate for those studying closer to home, this reflects the need for more maintenance to help pay for accommodation etc.
If I do a PLC Level 5 course and claim a SUSI grant, will this mean that I will have to do without the grant for a year if I go on to college?
No. SUSI will continue to pay a grant to eligible applicants as long as you are progressing with your education, i.e. moving from level 5 course into a Level 6/7/8 course.
When I how can I apply?
SUSI is open for applications now. To apply, simply log onto www.susi.ie and click apply. Some of the details that you will be asked to provide include your personal details, your CAO details and, of course, proof of income.
Anything else I should know?
Apply as soon as early applications are dealt with first. DO NOT wait until you find out whether or not you have a place on a course before you apply, get your application in and if you change your mind on the course you had sent to SUSI that is perfectly fine.
Be sure to check the box in your CAO application so that CAO can send SUSI confirmation of your place on your chosen course. Finally, there are a range of very good information videos on the website.
Scholarships and Bursaries
There are also a wide range of scholarship and bursaries available for students to apply for in all colleges, universities and beyond, with many of these not means tested. Scholarships can be offered for a wide variety of reasons from excellence in sports to academic performance and also for socio-economic reasons. Several other bursaries are provided by industry or from sponsors. Your local Credit Union may also offer bursaries to local members.
By way of an example of the types of financial help out there, our own LYIT offer an impressive suite of scholarships and bursaries which include:
- REACH scholarship (worth up to €800) application deadline Friday June 5th
- New Entrant Sports Scholarships (worth between €1000-€1500) application deadline Wednesday July 1st
- 1916 Bursary Fund (worth €5000 per annum) application deadline Tuesday June 30th
- Optum North West Healthcare Scholarship Scheme (worth €2500 per annum) Open to Donegal based students only. Application deadline Friday June 5th
- College of Sanctuary Scholarship (worth a fee waiver and €2000 per annum) Open to academically eligible asylum seekers and those in Direct Provision.
More details are available on LYIT website.
Whatever institution you decide to study at next year, be sure to check out their website for specific information in relation to grants, bursaries and scholarships.
Pay attention to the application deadline dates and get the applications in!
Many people simply can’t be bothered filling in forms but for those that take the time to do so, the benefits can be substantial.
Best of luck!
Rory White is a Guidance Counsellor in Finn Valley College, Stranorlar and a member of the Donegal Branch of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors. For the past ten years he has been helping Leaving Cert and PLC students as well as adults choose a college course or decide to change their career journey to start something new.