As the normal closing date for CAO application draws closer, it may be worthwhile to remind college applicants that while the most important section of the CAO form is the section relating to their course choices, they should not ignore other sections embedded in the form.
They should consider carefully the sections relating to the special access routes, DARE and HEAR, and to higher education grants.
DARE is the Disability Access Route to Education for school leavers who have the ability to benefit from higher education but who may not be able to meet the points for their preferred course due to the impact of a disability.
Applicants must provide supplementary information providing evidence of their specific disability or learning difficulty. They have until April 1 to provide supporting documentation.
HEAR is the Higher Education Access Route admissions scheme and offers college places on reduced points for school leavers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Applicants will probably need to consult their parents to see if their family income makes them eligible to use the route.
Detailed information on both schemes is available through www.accesscollege.ie
As far as grants are concerned, CAO's role is limited. All new student maintenance/fee grant applications will be made online to SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland) through their website at www.studentfinance.ie when the 2013 Grants Scheme is announced by the DES.
However, if applicants intend to apply for a grant, they may indicate this on their CAO online application form.
CAO will then provide their identification, contact and offer/acceptance details to the grant authority. Other than providing these details to the grant authority, CAO plays no role in processing grant applications.
SUSI started operating in 2012, and was beset by delays. The documentary evidence required from grant applicants is extensive, and much of the family income information in particular must be provided by parents.