Student Financial Support
The range of schemes and measures available to assist students in Further Education Colleges include the:

Student provides comprehensive and user-friendly information on the range of financial support schemes and programmes available to full-time further and higher education students.


Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS)

The Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) offers eligible participants the opportunity to return to full-time education while retaining their full social welfare entitlements together with a meal and in certain cases, a travel allowance.

There are a limited number of VTOS places in Blackrock Further Education Institute. Applications are processed on a first come basis.

Am I eligible for VTOS?

To apply for VTOS you must be at least 21 years of age by the course start date and

  • getting one of the following payments for at least 6 months (156 days) and still receiving a payment immediately before the course start date: Job Seeker’s Benefit, Job Seeker’s Allowance, One-Parent Family Payment, Illness Benefit, Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension,  Deserted Wife's Benefit/Allowance, Widow's/Widower's/Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory or Non-Contributory Pension, Prisoner's Wife's Allowance or Blind Person’s Pension
  • signing for credits for at least 6 months (156 days) before the course start date
  • are a registered Dependent Spouse/Civil Partner/cohabitant of a person eligible to participate in VTOS for at least 6 months before the course start date
  • have been made redundant and have received a statutory redundancy payment.  You should have received Form RP50 from your former employer.  You do not have to wait 6 months before applying for VTOS.

Note: Time spent on FET training courses, Youthreach, Community Employment Schemes, JobBridge, Tús, Carer’s Allowance and time in prison can count towards the 6 month qualifying period.  However, you must be receiving a social welfare payment immediately before starting VTOS.

In addition to your social welfare entitlements, which you retain, you will also be entitled to:

  • Meal allowances
  • Travel allowances (if you live more than three miles from the Institute)

In addition

  • Books and course materials will be provided for the duration of the course
  • Course and exam fees will be paid for you

VTOS gives eligible adults the opportunity to:

  • Return to full time education without losing benefit
  • Develop new skills
  • Gain certification at a range of levels
  • Find employment

The courses provided under the scheme are full-time and may be up to two years duration.

The main objectives of the scheme are to:

  • Give participants education and training opportunities which will enhance their employability.
  • Prepare participants for paid employment or to further opportunities leading to paid employment.

Contact Information

A prospective VTOS student may enrol for any course advertised in the Institute brochure.  Further information is available on the Department of Social Protection’s website or from your local Department of Social Protection office or from the Institute's VTOS Coordinator (



Back to Education Allowance

The Back to Education Allowance is an educational opportunities scheme for unemployed people, lone parents and people with disabilities. 

The allowance is payable to successful participants who wish to pursue approved second or third level courses of study. BTEA is not an unemployment payment. Participants receive a standard rate of payment which is not means tested.

Further information is available on the Department of Social Protection’s website or contact your local Department of Social Protection office for further details.


Disability Funding (Fund for Students with Disabilities)

The Fund for Students with Disabilities aims to assist students with disabilities and specific learning difficulties to participate in Further Education. It provides grants towards the provision of services and the purchase of equipment for students with disabilities attending courses in the Institute.

It is funded by the Irish Government and part funded by the European Social Fund under the Human Capital Investment Operational Programme.

For further information please click and download: Information for Students with Disabilities, Physical and Mental Health Conditions and/or Specific Learning Difficulties.

It is essential that you read this information before filling in the supplementary application form online. Please find link to the 2022/23 Supplementary Application Form.  

Useful Contacts
The Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD)
  • This Association has some good publications such as 'Assessing Third Level Education In Ireland', a handbook for students with disabilities and learning difficulties. Another useful publication is 'A Guide to Funding for People with Disabilities in Mainstream Vocational Training'.
  • Tel: 01 716 4396
  • Email:
The Dyslexia Association of Ireland
  • Association for Adults and Children with specific learning difficulties
  • Tel: 01 877 6001
  • Email: Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People
  • Tel: 01 817 5700
  • Minicom: 01(817 5777)
  • Text messages: 087 922 1046
  • Email:
National Council for the Blind of Ireland

Other Funding

There may be additional sources for funding available to students:

Local Partnerships

Extra financial support may be available from different local Partnerships. These are once off payments for students who are economically disadvantaged. Students can contact local partnerships (e.g. Southside Partnership, Bray Partnership, Northside Partnership, Wicklow Working Together) concerning funding.

Credit Union Member Scholarships/Bursaries

Many Credit Unions in Ireland provide a number of education grants or bursaries in their catchment areas for students studying at all levels of further and higher education. Contact your local credit union for further details.

Diageo (Guinness) Liberties and Coombe Scholarships

Diageo, owners of the Guinness brand, fund scholarships for students living in the Dublin 8 area who require financial assistance in order to access third-level education. Applications are normally made in late spring for the following academic year. Contact Diageo for further details.

Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) Scholarships

Higher education scholarships are available for full-time students living in the Dublin Docklands area. This bursary is attended to assist with books, materials, field trips and other associated academic costs. €1,300 is available for those on degree courses and €650 for those completing diploma or certificate courses. Email: for further details.

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul recognises the importance of further education particularly for people who live in disadvantaged circumstances. The Higher Education & Training Bursary has been put in place to help those people. Before applying for the Education & Training Bursary, applicants must have applied for all available state funding or other grants. The process for applying for a bursary varies depending on where you live as different regions have different procedures and application processes.

Irish Refugee Council

Please find The Irish Refugee Council's "Education Information Booklet 2022-2023". It gives details of funding supports available from the Irish Refugee Council and other sources:IRC Education Information Booklet 2022/2023.


PLC Bursary for Displaced Persons (Ukraine) Scheme 2023

Click here for details of this scheme. 


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