Now is the time to assess your CAO choices and get your grant application prepared
Going to college
Q Is there anything my child should be doing at this time of the year in relation to CAO?
Aoife replies: This is a relatively quiet time of year for the CAO and college applications. At this stage, applicants will have already filled out their CAO form and submitted it by February 1.
Students who are applying to the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) and Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) schemes will have completed these applications and forwarded their supplementary information to the CAO.
Most Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) colleges have now held their first round of interviews and have made offers to many students.
Leaving Certificate candidates are currently very busy with oral exams and practicals, however if they do find a spare minute, or would like to work on the CAO, now is a good time to take out the list of courses they applied for in February and consider if they are happy with these choices.
Students may have found other courses they would like to apply for, they may decide they would like to remove some courses they have already applied for and they may simply want to change the order of their preferences. This can all be done free of charge from May 5 until July 1.
Applicants who did not use up all places on the CAO might consider spending some time researching more options including Level 6 and Level 7 courses, which can offer wonderful opportunities but are often overlooked in January.
If students have not yet applied for PLC courses, there is still time although some of the more popular courses may be full at this stage. Applications for PLC courses should be made directly to each college.
Q It is important that my child applies for a grant. When should we do this?
A Third-level maintenance grants are means tested and can be applied for through susi.ie, which manages all new grant applications irrespective of which county a student resides in. It is not yet possible to make a grant application and SUSI expects the process to open in early May.
Applicants should apply as early as possible to ensure there is enough time to collect all relevant documentation and have everything in place before college begins in the autumn.
Last year the deadline for submitting applications was in early August. Students should not wait until they have been offered a place to begin this process and should apply even if they are not sure if they intend to go to college this year.
In general, students under the age of 23 are assessed on parental income. Grants will cover a student's registration fees for universities, institutes of technology and further education. Grants can be paid at 100pc, 75pc, 50pc or 25pc, depending on income.
In 2014/15, the 100pc adjacent grant will be €1,215 and the 100pc non-adjacent grant (for those who live more than 45km away from their institution) will be €3,025.
More information on grants can be found on susi.ie
Important dates this week:
Open Day: DIT Cathal Brugha St
Interview Date 2014: Dun Laoghaire Further Education Institute
Open Evening: Postgraduate and part-time programmes Dun Laoghaire Inst of Art Design & Technology
Open Day: Griffith College Dublin|Open Day: Irish College of Humanities & Applied sciences
Maritime Advice Day: National Maritime College of Ireland
Closing date for applications for Defence Forces (general army and naval and reserves) ||
Entrance Tests for CR125-129 (3 Days) CIT School of Music
Entrance Tests for CR700 (3 Days) CIT School of Music
Open Information Day: Co Tipperary Skillnet
Spring Open Day: University College Cork
Closing date for ESB apprenticeships (electrical and mechanics)
Entrance Test for CR121 CIT School of Music
Spring Open Day 2014: NUI Maynooth
Spring Open Day 2014: Pontifical University St Patrick’s College, Maynooth
Student Teacher Experience Day: St. Patrick’s College, Thurles, Co Tipperary
Closing date for applications to Bus Eireann (heavy vehicle mechanics)
Trainee Jockey Open Day: RACE
Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin.