A Guide to Funding College Education In Ireland

Ireland is a great destination to further your studies due to the sheer variety of courses on offer. Ireland is reputed for its educational excellence and also happens to have one of the youngest populations in all of Europe. English is the main language of the country and international students will find it easy to fit in. They will also have a chance to immerse themselves in the rich culture, unspoiled natural beauty and cosmopolitan character of the big cities in Ireland.

Higher education in Ireland
The universities in Ireland are fully recognized internationally.There are seven in the country, two of which are in Northern Ireland. Further education has seen immense growth in recent years. Universities have their own entry requirements for postgraduate studies. For some courses, an undergraduate degree is a prerequisite.

Some of the main reasons why students prefer to pursue their college education in Ireland include the quality of the degrees, affordability and the overall experience. Compared to countries like the US, college education in Ireland costs far less. Some courses, such as law degrees, are offered at undergraduate levels. The cost of living is also much lower in Ireland. Irish education has a traditional aspect and this combined with the country’s cultural heritage make the college experience in Ireland a wholesome and enjoyable one.

Fees
Students who are citizens of EU countries are entitled to university education in Ireland or any other EU member state. These students are therefore not charged higher fees than local students and they can also apply for any available grants to assist their tuition fees. The course fees are set annually and can differ from university to university. These costs may be higher for non-EU citizens.

The Irish Department of Education specifies that a student will be considered an EU student if he or she is an EU national (holds a EU birth certificate or EU passport) who is not eligible for the free fees scheme and has been living as a tax resident in the EU for a minimum of three years immediately preceding entry to the course. Non-EU nationals who have been living as tax residents in the EU are also entitled to pay EU fees if they have been living in the region for three years just before joining the course.

Funding
The Irish Student Grant Scheme consists of maintenance grants and fee grants. Maintenance grants are used for the general living costs of students and involve a number of conditions such as nationality, immigration status and residence. Fee grants go toward the tuition fees, expenses involved in field trips and student contributions. These grants have stringent requirements even for EU students.

Students who qualify for maintenance grants also qualify for all that is included in a fee grant. In some cases, students may qualify for a fee grant and not a maintenance grant. This happens in the case of ‘tuition students’, as specified under the Student Grant Scheme. These students meet all the criteria for a student grant apart from residence in the state, although they have been residents in an EEA country, or Switzerland, for three of the preceding five years.

Eligibility for a student grant
In order to qualify for a student grant, you need to meet the requirements of the scheme – nationality, immigration status, residence and means. The course you are attending must also be approved and in an approved institution. The course must represent progression from your prior studies.

Along with nationality, immigration status and residence, to qualify for a student grant, you also need to pass the means test. This is based on the family’s gross income for the preceding full tax year. If there has been a change of circumstances, this may be taken into account.

Students are considered dependent on their parents’ income if they were living with their parents from October 1st of the year preceding the year of entry to the course. Independent mature candidates are those who are 23 years and above as of January 1st in the year of entry to the course. They must also be living separately from their parents since October 1st of the year preceding the year of entry to the course, and they will be assessed on their own income.