Case studies: Choosing between the student grant and Back to Education Allowance.

This case study looks at the choices available to people getting Jobseeker’s Allowance, One-Parent Family Payment or Disability Allowance.

Anne has been getting Jobseeker’s Allowance for 9 months and is starting a full-time course of further education at second level:

Anne cannot get Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) and attend full-time education. She should apply for the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA). Because Anne is over 25, her rate of payment on BTEA will be the same as the rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance she is getting and she can keep any secondary benefits she is currently getting. She will not get the maintenance component of a student grant with BTEA, but she will be financially better off on BTEA than she would be on the maintenance grant alone.

Since Anne is doing a Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) course and getting the BTEA she is exempt from the student participant charge (€200). She may have to pay a course charge for books, exam fees and other costs.

If she was getting the BTEA for a third-level course she would have to apply to SUSI to be assessed for the fee component of the student grant, covering the student contribution and any tuition fees/essential field trip costs.

Peter has been getting a One-Parent Family Payment for 3 years and is starting a full-time course in higher education at third level:

Peter is getting a One-Parent Family Payment which means he has two options and will need to work out which will give him the higher income.

1. Peter can stay on his One-Parent Family Payment and get a student grant (both maintenance and fee components). If he chooses this option he will continue to get his One-Parent Family Payment at his current rate as well as the grant. However, he will lose any secondary benefits such as Rent Supplement. If he is getting a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), he must notify the local authority and the maintenance component of his grant may be assessed as income.

If he is nearing the end of his entitlement to One-Parent Family Payment, the Back to Education Allowance may be of greater benefit to him because it is paid for the duration of his course.

2. Peter can transfer from One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) to the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA). If he chooses this option, he will not get the maintenance component of the student grant. His rate of payment on BTEA will be the same as the rate of One-Parent Family Payment he was getting and he can keep any secondary benefits he is currently getting.

He must still apply to SUSI to be assessed for the fee component of the student grant, covering the student contribution and any tuition fees/essential field trip costs.

Maria has been getting a Disability Allowance for a number of years and is starting a full-time course in higher education at third level:

Maria is getting a Disability Allowance which means she has two options and will need to work out which will give her the higher income.

1. Maria can stay on Disability Allowance and get a student grant (both maintenance and fee components). If she chooses this option she will continue to get Disability Allowance at her current rate. However, she will lose any secondary benefits she is already getting such as Rent Supplement. If she is getting a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), she must notify the local authority and the maintenance component of her grant may be assessed as income.

If she is living at home, her parents’ income may affect the amount of maintenance grant she will get. It may mean she will get a reduced amount of maintenance grant, or just the fee component of the student grant, or neither. She must notify the Disability Allowance Section in the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection that she is starting a course of study.

2. Maria can transfer from Disability Allowance (DA) to the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA). If she chooses this option and qualifies for BTEA she will not get the maintenance component of the student grant. Her rate of payment on BTEA will be the same as her rate of Disability Allowance and she can keep any secondary benefits she is currently getting.

She must still apply to SUSI to be assessed for the fee component of the student grant, covering the student contribution and any tuition fees/essential field trip costs.

Page edited: 22 May 2018