Postgraduate student grants

Introduction

If you are enrolling in a postgraduate course, you may get financial support under the Student Grant Scheme.

The online application system for the 2020-2021 academic year closes at midnight on Thursday, 5 November 2020.

Budget 2021

The fee grant for postgraduate students will increase by €1,500 from €2000 to €3,500 and the income eligibility threshold will be adjusted.

Once-off grant to third level students

The Department of Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science announced that all students who get a student grant will get an extra €250 before Christmas. It will be paid directly to students - similar to the maintenance grant.

Students who do not get the student grant can reduce any outstanding contribution fee payment by €250 or get a €250 credit note for their institution. In a small number of cases, the payment can be made directly to students.

Postgraduate student grant

You 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 support under the Scheme for courses elsewhere in the EU.

You can qualify for assistance under the Student Grant Scheme in 2 ways. You may either:

1.Get a new flat rate fee contribution of €2,000, if you pass the fee contribution means test – see below

Or

2.Get all your tuition fees paid and essential field trips (up to €6,270), if you meet the qualifying conditions for the special rate of grant for disadvantaged students – see below

You must qualify for the special rate of grant for disadvantaged students to get a postgraduate maintenance grant – see below. No maintenance grant is paid to other postgraduate students.

To qualify for assistance under the Student Grant Scheme, you must also meet nationality, immigration and residency criteria. You can get more information about these criteria in our document on the Student Grant Scheme.

Fee contribution means test

The means test may be carried out on your income or your parent’s income. This depends on whether you are dependent on your parents or you are considered an independent student.

Dependent on 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 term-time (up to €4,500).

Independent students

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.

How is the means test calculated?

The means test for the fee contribution under the Student Grant Scheme in 2020-2021 is based on your family's reckonable income for the previous full tax year (2019). If your family’s reckonable income is over the limit set by the Department of Education and Skills, you do 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 2020 (pdf).

If you or your family has had a change of circumstances after 31 December 2019, which has reduced your income permanently, your new reckonable income will be taken into account.

If you are eligible for full tuition fees from any other source, including sponsorship or an award, you do not qualify for the postgraduate fee contribution. If you are eligible for partial fees, your postgraduate fee contribution is reduced by the amount of assistance you receive.

Income limits for the fee contribution

The family income limits for a postgraduate fee contribution in 2020-2021 are set out in the table below.

Number of dependent children Reckonable income limits
Less than 4 €31,500
4-7 €34,615
8 or more €37,580

The reckonable income limits may be increased by €4,980 for each additional family member who is on 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.

Special rate of grant for disadvantaged students

Disadvantaged postgraduate students who meet a number of conditions can get their tuition fees paid and essential field trips (up to €6,270). If you meet the criteria you may also qualify for a special maintenance grant – see below.

To qualify for the special rate of grant for disadvantaged students:

  • You must have satisfied the conditions for the standard maintenance grant under the Student Grant Scheme for the academic year 2020-2021. You can get detailed information on the standard maintenance grant in our document on the Student Grant Scheme.
  • Your total reckonable income in the tax year January to December 2019 must be €24,500 or less, not including Qualified Child Increases and standard exclusions
  • Your parents or guardian (or you, if you are an independent student), must be getting certain social welfare payments or participating in a designated programme on 31 December 2019 – see below.

Qualifying social welfare payments and programmes:

  • Long-term social welfare payments
  • Working Family Payment (WFP) (formerly known as Family Income Supplement (FIS)
  • Designated programmes (for example, a Community Employment Scheme)

These payments and programmes are listed in Schedule 2 of the Student Grant Scheme 2020 (pdf).

Maintenance grant (special rate)

A maintenance grant is also available for postgraduate students who qualify for the special rate of grant. The rates of maintenance grants are listed in Schedule 3 of the Student Grant Scheme 2020 (pdf).

If you are getting a Back To Education Allowance (BTEA), a Vocational Training Opportunities Schemes (VTOS) allowance or you are a tuition student, you cannot get the special rate of maintenance grant. A tuition student is someone who fulfils all the conditions for a student grant except for residence in the State, but who has been resident in an EEA state or Switzerland for 3 of the last 5 years.

Other supports

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 give loans to students to pay for postgraduate courses. Shop around for the best rates.

Where to apply

New postgraduate student grant applications

Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) is the single grant-awarding authority that handles all grant applications. You must make your grant application online. You can get more information on how to apply in our document on the Student Grant Scheme

The online application system for the 2020-2021 academic year closes at midnight on Thursday, 5 November 2020.

After you apply, your application will be:

  • Awarded: An award letter is sent to you offering you a grant and highlighting the further steps you need to take before your grant can be paid.
  • Refused: A refusal letter is sent to you. The letter will also highlight the further steps you can take if you want to request a review of your grant decision.

Your grant/fee contribution is awarded when you confirm acceptance of your place (usually late August/early September) and is paid into your designated Irish bank account.

Renewal of student grant applications

Student grants are reviewed each year. If you had a grant in one academic year and are continuing your studies on the same course in the following year, SUSI will contact you by email and post to remind you to renew your grant application.

Page edited: 19 November 2020