There are different schemes which provide funding to help with the costs of going to school. Most of the schemes are for students with family incomes below a certain level who are dependent on a social welfare payment. There is also a scheme for second-level students who are disadvantaged by living a long way from school. The details of the various schemes are set out below.
The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance is designed to help meet the cost of uniforms and footwear for students in Ireland attending school. To be eligible for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, the applicant (parent or guardian) must be getting certain social welfare benefits or payments for training, employment schemes or adult education and total household income must be below a certain amount.
The child or student must be aged between 4 and 22 years before 1 September of the year when the application is made and must be in full-time education at a recognised school or college.
The School Books Grant Scheme is available to State primary and post-primary schools to help with the cost of school books. Funding for this scheme comes from the Department of Education and Skills and the scheme is administered in each school by the school principal.
The scheme is mainly aimed at pupils from low-income families and families experiencing financial hardship. It can be used to set up a book rental scheme within the school or help individual students buy books. The Department of Education prefers schools to use it to set up book rental schemes as this helps more students from low income families - see circular letter 0023/2011 and circular letter 0024/2011. The Department has issued schools with Guidelines for Developing Textbook Rental Schemes in Schools.
Broadly speaking, students who may be eligible for assistance under the School Books Grant Scheme include:
Students who are in the care of foster families under arrangements made by a Local Health Office and students participating in Youthreach, VTOS and Post-Leaving Certificate Courses do not qualify for assistance under the School Books Grant Scheme.
You can find out more about the scheme in the Department's publication A Guide for Parents: Text Book Rental Scheme in Schools.
Students whose parent or guardian holds a current medical card do not have to pay the examination fees for Junior or Leaving Certificate. In this case, details of the medical card are put on the fee payment form and the parent then sends the form back to the school. If you are exempt from fees because your parents hold a medical card you are still liable for late fees if you apply after the deadline. More detailed information is available on Leaving Certificate examination fees and Junior Certificate examination fees.
Under the Remote Area Grant scheme funding is available to support pupils who live far from a school providing suitable free second-level education. To qualify for a boarding grant the pupil must live at least 4.8 km from a second-level school and more than 3.2 km from a pick-up point on a transport service to such a school. The pupil must be unable to obtain a place in a suitable second-level school within 25 km of their home and must be attending a second-level school providing free second-level education for day pupils. Pupils living on offshore islands which do not have a school providing suitable free second-level education may also qualify for assistance under the scheme. Read more about the Remote Areas Boarding Grant.
For assistance under the School Books Grant Scheme you should apply for assistance directly to the principal of your child's school. The principal has total discretion in deciding which students are most in need. Further information about the operation of the scheme in your child's school is available from the school principal.
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If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.