Do I qualify for a grant?
If you are struggling to cope with the cost of kitting children out for the return to school then there are different State schemes which provide funding to help with the costs.
Most of the schemes are for those where the family income is below a certain level and are dependent on a social welfare payment, according to the Citizens Advice Bureau. There is also a scheme for second-level students who are disadvantaged by living a long way from school.
CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR ALLOWANCE
The Back-To-School Clothing and Footwear allowance aims, as its name implies, to help meet the cost of uniforms and footwear for children attending school.
The scheme operates from June to September 30 each year, and the maximum you can get is €305 per child, according to the children's charity Bernardos. Minister for Social Protection Eamon O Cuiv said recently that €82m had been provided for this allowance.
In order to qualify, the applicant (which can be a parent or a 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 two and 22 years before October 1 of the year when the application is made and must be in full-time education at a recognised school or college. If you are on a short-term social welfare payment, your child must be aged two and 17 years in order to qualify.
Application forms are available in Health Service Executive Offices and online at: www.welfare.ie, or www. communitywelfareservice.ie.
SCHOOL BOOKS GRANT SCHEME
A grant scheme is available for students in State primary and post- primary schools to help with the cost of school books. The scheme is mainly aimed at pupils from low-income families and families experiencing financial hardship.
Funding for this scheme comes from the Department of Education and Skills and the scheme is administered in each school by the school principal, according to Citizens Information. Since 2009 this grant scheme has been restricted to schools in the Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) programme.
In the 2010 Budget it was announced that extra funding would be allocated to schools for school books and to support cultural activities. Broadly speaking, students who may be eligible for assistance under the School Books Grant Scheme include:
* Families dependent mainly dependent on social welfare payments
* Families on low incomes, (for example, those receiving Family Income Supplement, and the Back-to-School Clothing and Footwear Allowance)
* Families experiencing financial hardship because of particular circumstances (for example, where there is prolonged illness of a parent/guardian, addiction problems, etc.)
* 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 are ineligible for assistance under the School Books Grant Scheme.
For assistance under the School Books Grant Scheme you should apply for assistance directly to the principal of your child's school.
EXEMPTION FROM EXAMINATION FEES
Students whose parent or guardian holds a current, valid 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 for paying the fees has passed.
More detailed information is available www.citizensinformation.ie.
REMOTE AREAS BOARDING GRANT
Under the Remote Area Grant scheme funding is available to support pupils who live far from a school providing them with suitable free second-level education.
To qualify for a boarding grant the pupil must live at least three miles from a second-level school and more than two miles 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 15 miles of their home and must be attending a second-level school providing free second-level education for day pupils.