Students enrolling in postgraduate courses may get financial assistance under the Student Grant Scheme. From the 2012-2013 academic year, there are changes to this Scheme for postgraduate students. Postgraduates getting a student grant before 2012 and continuing on their existing courses are not affected by these changes.
Postgraduates may get financial assistance under the Student Grant Scheme with the cost of tuition fees for approved postgraduate courses in Ireland and Northern Ireland. There is no assistance under the Scheme for courses elsewhere in the EU.
There are 2 ways postgraduates may qualify for assistance under the Student Grant Scheme. They may either:
1.Get a new flat rate fee contribution of €2,000, if they pass the fee contribution means test – see below
2.Get all their tuition fees paid and essential field trips (up to €6,270), if they meet the qualifying conditions for the special rate of grant for disadvantaged students – see below
No maintenance grant is paid to new postgraduate students from 2012.
To qualify for assistance under the Student Grant Scheme you must also meet the criteria for nationality and immigration status, and residency. More information about these criteria can be found in our document on Grants for student in further and higher education.
The means test may be carried out on your income or your parent’s income. It will depend on whether you are an independent mature student or dependent on your parents.
If you were ordinarily resident with your parents from October 1 of the year before the year of entry to higher education on an approved course, you are considered dependent on your parents. In this case, your income (if any) is assessed together with your parents' income(s). An allowance is made for a certain amount of your earnings outside of term-time (up to €4,500).
Independent students are mature students aged over 23 who live separately from their parents from 1 October of the year before the year of entry to higher education on an approved course. If you are an independent student, you are assessed on your own income (and that of your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant, if applicable).
If you were classified as a dependent student you cannot be reclassified as an independent student unless there is a 3-year break in your studies.
The means test for the fee contribution under the Student Grant Scheme in 2016-2017 is based on your family's reckonable income for the previous full tax year (2015). If your family’s reckonable income is over the limit set by the Department of Education and Skills you will not qualify for the fee contribution. Some social welfare payments are excluded from 'reckonable income' for the purposes of the means test - see more details on reckonable income on susi.ie and also in the Student Grant Scheme 2016.
If you or your family has had a change of circumstances after 31 December 2015, which has reduced your income permanently, your new reckonable income may be taken into account.
If you are eligible for full assistance with the tuition fee from any other source, including sponsorship or an award, you will not qualify for the postgraduate fee contribution. If you are eligible for partial assistance, your postgraduate fee contribution will be reduced by the amount of assistance you receive.
The family income limits for eligibility for a postgraduate fee contribution in 2016-2017 are set out in the table below.
|Number of dependent children||Reckonable income limits|
|Fewer than 4||€31,500|
|8 or more||€37,580|
The reckonable income limits may be increased by €4,980 for each additional family member who is pursuing a full-time course of at least one year’s duration.
If you are an independent student, the family member taken into account is your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant. If you are dependent on your parents, the family members taken into account are your parent(s) and their other dependent children.
Disadvantaged postgraduate students who meet a number of conditions can get tuition fees paid and essential field trips (up to €6,270).
To qualify for the special rate of grant for disadvantaged students:
Qualifying social welfare payments and programmes:
These payments and programmes are listed in Schedule 2 of the Student Grant Scheme 2016.
Existing postgraduate grant holders continuing on their existing courses will not be affected by these changes and may continue to qualify for fees and maintenance under the Student Grant Scheme. More information is available in our document on Grants for student in further and higher education.
Tax relief is available on postgraduate tuition fees.
You should contact your college or university to find out about scholarships or bursaries. There is also some information on studentfinance.ie.
Financial institutions are providing loans to students to pay for postgraduate courses. Shop around for the best rates.
New postgraduate student grant applications
Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) is the new single grant-awarding authority. It handles all new grant applications from 2012.
Your grant/fee contribution will be awarded when you confirm acceptance of your place (usually late August/early September). SUSI will pay it into your designated Irish bank account.
Renewal of student grant applications
Local authorities deal with renewal grant applications for postgraduate students getting a grant before the 2012-2013 academic year.
Student grants are reviewed each year. If you had a grant in one academic year and are continuing your studies on the course in the following year, the body that awarded the grant will be in contact with you in order to renew or re-assess your student grant for that next year.
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.