Ask Brian: Do I qualify for a postgraduate course grant?

There are a range of assistance options, but they are subject to strict income limits

Before making an application for a grant, it is worth visiting Susi’s website (susi.ie) to complete their eligibility reckoner. This allows students to quickly and easily self-assess whether they may or may not be eligible for a student grant. Photo: iStock

Before making an application for a grant, it is worth visiting Susi’s website (susi.ie) to complete their eligibility reckoner. This allows students to quickly and easily self-assess whether they may or may not be eligible for a student grant. Photo: iStock

 

Question: I’m a mature student who previously completed a university degree. I am thinking of returning to education to do a postgraduate course. What financial assistance, if any is available to me?

Answer: There are a range of grant assistance options for those considering undertaking certain postgraduate courses from the Student Universal Support Ireland (Susi). It comes in the form of a postgraduate fee contribution and, in certain cases, fees plus maintenance payments.

As all grants are means-tested, it is important to be aware of the income limits for postgraduate courses.

Before making an application, it is worth visiting Susi’s website (www.susi.ie) and taking a couple of minutes to complete their eligibility reckoner. This allows students to quickly and easily self-assess whether they may or may not be eligible for a student grant.

If you’re considering applying, don’t waste too much time. Susi is accepting applications until early November.

There are range of different supports available depending on your circumstances.

In order to qualify for the postgraduate fee contribution of €2,000 towards the total cost of fees for the 2017/18 academic year, your reckonable income for the previous year must be below specific income threshold limits.

For example, where there are fewer than four dependent children in a household, reckonable income for 2016 must be below €31,500.

Postgraduate students who are eligible for this award are not eligible to receive the maintenance grant.

However, some students may be eligible for the “special rate of postgraduate fee contribution”. For this level of award, reckonable household income must not exceed €23,000. In addition, the reckonable household income must include an eligible long-term Department of Social Protection payment on 31 December 2016 (or its equivalent from an EU Member State).

If you are living at home, you must apply as a mature dependent with your parent’s details and your income as well as your parent’s income will be assessed. If you are living independently, you may be eligible to apply as an “independent student” and will have your own income and that of your spouse, co-habitant or civil partner assessed. More information on “applicant class” is available on the Susi website.

Students who qualify for the special rate award will receive postgraduate tuition fees up to a maximum value of €6,270. These students will also receive maintenance payments, the level of which is determined by the distance from the student’s ordinary residence to the institution they are attending.

If this distance is 45km or under, the student will receive a total of €2,375 in maintenance; if the distance is above 45km the maintenance amount will be €5,915.

An increasing number of students are availing of the Back to Education Allowance scheme to return to education, which is paid by the Department of Social Protection.

If you are intending on pursing either a higher diploma qualification in any discipline or a professional master’s in education, you may be eligible for this allowance.