Financial help with going to school

Help with the cost of school

You may get some help with the cost of your child going to school.

The main supports are the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, free primary school and special school books and the school book rental scheme. You may also get help with exam fees, school transport fees, school boarding and assistive technology depending on your situation.

Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance

The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance helps meet the costs of uniforms and footwear for students going to school.

To get the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, you must be getting certain social welfare payments or taking part in certain education and training or employment schemes and your total household income must be below a certain amount.

School books

Free primary and special school books

Since September 2023, parents of children in primary school and special school do not have to pay a contribution fee towards schoolbooks, workbooks and copybooks.

The school will provide the free books on loan. Parents must return them at the end of the school year. If parents have to buy additional items, the school will notify them. Parents can find more information on the Free Primary Schoolbooks scheme (pdf).

Post-primary schools

State post-primary schools can help students with the cost of school books from funding under the Free Education Scheme (pdf). The funding comes from the Department of Education and the scheme is administered in each school by the school principal.

It is for students 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.

You can find out more about the scheme in the Department's publication A Guide for Parents: Textbook Rental Scheme in Schools (pdf).

You can get information about the how the scheme operates in your child's school from the school principal. To apply for assistance, you must contact the principal of your child's school. The principal has total discretion in deciding which students are most in need.

Budget 2024: free school books extended

It was announced in Budget 2024 that free school books will be provided to Junior Cycle students (the first 3 years of post-primary school) from September 2024.

Exam fees

Students whose parent or guardian have a medical card do not have to pay the examination fees for Junior or Leaving Certificate. 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 have a medical card you will have to pay late fees if you apply after the deadline. More detailed information is available on Leaving Certificate examination fees and Junior Certificate examination fees.

School transport

The school transport scheme provides transport for children who live 3.2 km or more from their local school. School transport may be free to medical card holders, if the school transport scheme is operating in your area and your child is eligible.

Find out more about school transport for primary school and school transport for post-primary school.

Special needs school transport

Free transport is available to children with special needs to and from special schools and classes. If transport is not available a Special Transport Grant may be an option.

Remote Area Boarding Grant

Students who live far from a school can get funding to support them to attend suitable free second-level education, under the Remote Area Boarding Grant scheme

To qualify for a boarding grant you 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. You must be unable to obtain a place in a suitable second-level school within 25 km of your home and must be attending a second-level school providing free second-level education for day pupils.

Students 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 Area Boarding Grant.

Special needs and physical disability

The assistive technology grant scheme for primary schools provides grant-aid to schools to help them purchase specialist equipment. You can get more detailed information on the Assistive technology grant for students with disabilities.

Organisations and, in some cases, parents or guardians can access additional grants for special education including home tuition, Irish sign language, typing scheme and part-time teaching hours are available. More detailed information is available from the Special Education Section of the Department of Education.

You can read more about support for special needs education in primary schools and post primary schools.

Further information

Department of Education

Schools Division Financial

N37 X659

Tel: (090) 648 3600
Page edited: 11 October 2023