Further & Higher Education Supports

Going back to education can be an exciting but daunting prospect as a lone parent as you will want to make sure you have the time, finances and supports to make it work for you and your family.

Once you have identified the area of study that interests you then you may want to start researching the options available to you. Many colleges and universities have open days so that you can plan a visit and often get to talk to staff and students.

Some colleges and universities have access programmes aimed at mature students (over the age of 23) that provide an opportunity to get a taste of higher education and support to make subject choices at the next stage. These programmes are usually aimed at people who, for a variety of reasons, have not had access to higher education opportunities.

The next stage is to make applications for your chosen courses directly with the college or via the CAO system, if you are applying for an undergraduate degree in a higher education institution.

Financial supports whilst studying are an important factor. If this is your first time entering higher education, then you may be eligible for the Free Fees Scheme for your chosen course which will cover tuition costs.

The Free Fees Scheme applies to those who meet the residence, national and immigration status and the course requirements. In general terms this applies to being a full-time, first-time student in an approved college of education, university or institute of technology. It does not apply to private colleges or part time courses.

Daily living expenses may be met via a social welfare payment, such as the Back to Education Allowance  if you are living in private rented accommodation and receiving Rent Supplement. If you rent your home from the local authority or a housing association or are in receipt of Housing Assistance Payment then you may be able to remain on an existing payment such as One-Parent Family Payment or Jobseeker’s Allowance transitional payment  and claim a maintenance grant from SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland), which may help towards extra education costs.

You will find further information below on supports available.