Saturday 21 July 2018

The grant is not the only source of finance for college students

About half of students receive a grant, but it may not stretch to cover all costs. (Stock image)
About half of students receive a grant, but it may not stretch to cover all costs. (Stock image)

Aoife Walsh

About half of students receive a grant, but it may not stretch to cover all costs. There are also many other students who don’t receive a grant and who find it difficult to make ends meet.

Colleges can sometimes offer financial help — and it is important to ask the question of them — while students, or their families, with capacity to make repayments, may consider a loan.

Whatever the college, there will be a student support services office that will advise on what may be available. Meanwhile, here are some pointers:

The Fund for Students with Disabilities allocates funding to further and higher education colleges for the provision of services and supports to full-time students with disabilities. It aims to ensure that students are not disadvantaged by reason of a disability.

The Student Assistance Fund provides financial assistance for full-time higher education students who are experiencing financial difficulties. Students can apply to help them with either temporary or ongoing financial difficulties. The fund provides a further source of funding for students in addition to the student grant.

The Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) allows people in receipt of certain social welfare payments to retain those payments whilst participating in approved full-time courses in further and higher education.

Banks and credit unions offer student loans and assistance with spreading the cost of college administration fees for parents and students. Banks are particularly interested in offering very low cost loans to students of medicine, dentistry, and others where they feel there are good employment prospects.

There is a broad range of bursary or scholarship schemes that provide an opportunity for students to access additional financial support if a student meets the criteria. Some schemes are specifically targeted at students with limited means, students with disabilities and students from minority ethnic groups. In the main, bursary or scholarship schemes are focused on higher rather than further education, however there are a number of exceptions.

The website provides information on sources of finance, and also includes a frequently asked questions (FAQs) section as well as details of, and links to a range of other organisations and websites that may be of interest and/or assistance.

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