Funding for education and training
Many courses for jobseekers are free. If you are doing a third-level course your course fees or student contribution may be covered under the Student Grant Scheme. You may also qualify for a weekly payment while you are in education or training. If you are doing a Further Education and Training (FET) or VTOS course a training allowance can be paid or you may be able to keep your social welfare payment while you are taking part in a course. You may also be able to return to education and get a Back to Education Allowance under the Department of Social Protection’s Back to Education Programme.
Eligibility conditions and training allowances vary widely from course to course, so you should check the details of each course carefully and check your eligibility with your local Intreo centre or employment services office.
If you are on certain vocational courses and you need childcare, you may qualify for a free childcare place under the Childcare Employment and Training Support (CETS) scheme.
Student Grant Scheme
If you are doing a full-time higher education undergraduate course or a full-time Post Leaving Certificate Course (PLC) you may get financial support through the means-tested Student Grant Scheme. Student grants cover tuition fees, student contribution and a maintenance grant. Postgraduate students may be able to get a grant to help with tuition fees but not maintenance during the course.
Back to Education Programme
The Back to Education Programme allows people getting social welfare payments to return to part-time or full-time education while continuing to get income supports. The Programme includes the following:
- Back to Education Allowance: supports people getting a social welfare payment to access second-level and third-level education. You cannot get a Back to Education Allowance and a student grant together. However, this does not affect your entitlement to an exemption from college fees or student support charges. The allowance is paid for the duration of your course. People who are under 26 have their payment increased to €160 per week (any means you have will be deducted from this rate).
- Part-Time Education Option: allows you to keep your jobseeker’s payment and attend a part-time day or evening course that will improve your chances of getting a job. You must also continue to be available for and actively seeking work.
- Education, Training and Development Option: allows you to keep your jobseeker’s payment and attend a course not covered by the standard Back to Education Allowance, such as a personal development course personal development course, a basic education course (for example, literacy classes) a general training course or specific job skills.
Further Education and Training (FET) courses
Further Education and Training (FET) courses are free (except for evening courses which are free if you are unemployed). You may be paid a FET training allowance for the duration of your course if you are getting a qualifying social welfare payment (in some cases you retain your existing social welfare payment). If you are under 26 and were getting an age-related reduced jobseeker’s payment you will have your payment increased to €160 per week (any means you have will be deducted from this rate). You may be eligible for an accommodation allowance or a travel allowance. You may also qualify for a free childcare place for children.
Momentum courses are free and you will continue to get your jobseeker’s payment while you are on the Momentum course. If you no longer meet the qualifying criteria for Jobseeker’s Allowance or Jobseeker’s Benefit your social welfare payment will stop, but you may continue on the Momentum project. People who are under 26 have their payment increased to €160 per week (any means you have will be deducted from this rate).
If you take up a Springboard course, you can keep your existing social welfare payment if you continue to fulfil the conditions for the payment. You do not have to pay any course fees or charges while you are unemployed. If you take up a job while on a course, Springboard will fund the fees for the full academic year. If you are getting a jobseeker’s payment and participating on a part-time Springboard course you will continue to get your jobseeker’s payment under the Part-Time Education Option (PTEO). If you are on a full-time Springboard course you will transfer to a Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) - you must meet the qualifying criteria for BTEA.
Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) courses
There is no fee for VTOS courses and you may have your books and materials provided. If you qualify for a VTOS course you continue to get your jobseeker’s payment at your normal rate. People who are under 26 have their payment increased to €160 per week (any means you have will be deducted from this rate).
Youthreach courses are free and trainees aged over 16 receive a weekly allowance.
Extra benefits and returning to education
In general you can keep your extra benefits when you are returning to education. Your eligibility for a medical card or a GP visit card is not affected if your means do not change.
If you are getting a Fuel Allowance you can usually keep it when you are on a training scheme or educational course.
You can read about how your Rent Supplement may be affected in our document on Rent Supplement and changes to your circumstances.