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.

The Fund aims to ensure that students can participate fully in their academic programmes and are not disadvantaged by reason of a disability. Eligible students can receive assistance from the Fund from PLC level right up to doctoral level. You do not have to be in first year of a course to be eligible to apply for the Fund*. Application for the first time can be made during any year of study on an approved course at further or higher education level.

A claim under the Fund is made on behalf of an eligible student by their college following an assessment of need. Applications cannot be made directly to the Fund by students. Colleges are also responsible for the management of the funding approved for eligible students. Students supported under the Fund for Students with Disabilities are not means-tested. A minimum age for application applies, however. Students with disabilities enrolled in part-time courses, access or foundation courses in higher education institutions or short courses are not eligible for consideration under the Fund.

To work out whether you may be eligible for the Fund you need to be aware of the main conditions of the programme. The information below will assist you in this process. Each section below will guide you through the eligibility requirements of the fund.

The Fund for Students with Disabilities is co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Program for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014 – 2020’.

*Closing dates apply each year

Check Participating Colleges and Approved Courses

The Fund for Students with Disabilities covers most full-time PLC, undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications in Ireland. In addition, eligible students pursuing many full-time undergraduate or postgraduate courses in Northern Ireland can be supported under the Fund. Lastly, eligible students pursuing full-time undergraduate courses in publicly funded institutions in the European Union can also be considered.

In this section, you can find out which colleges and full-time courses are approved under the Fund.

  • Further Education Colleges in Ireland
  • Universities in Ireland
  • Institutes of Technology in Ireland
  • Other Higher Education Institutions in Ireland
  • Universities in Northern Ireland
  • Other Colleges in Northern Ireland
  • Higher Education Colleges in Britain and other EU Member States

Check Your Eligibility

To be eligible for support under the Fund for Students with Disabilities, a learner on an approved course must meet all the following conditions:

Have a verifiable disability in one or more of the categories as outlined below;

As a result of the disability have a need for specific supports and/or assistance arising from study or attendance on the chosen course;

Meet the Residency and Nationality/Immigration Status as outlined below.

In order to be eligible for support under the Fund, a student must be legally resident in Ireland for at least 3 of the 5 years up to the day before her/his approved course commences in an approved institution. If the student does not qualify at the beginning of your course, it is possible for her/him to meet this requirement during the course of her/his studies; reviewed at the beginning of an academic year.

To qualify the student must be either:

  • an Irish national,
  • a national of another EU Member State, the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland:

Immigration Status
If one of the nationality categories above does not apply, then the student will need to have:

  • been declared a refugee under the Refugees Act 1996, or
  • admitted to Ireland as a Programme Refugee, or
  • permission to remain in Ireland as a family member of a refugee under section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996, or
  • been granted subsidiary protection under the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006, or
  • permission in writing to enter and reside in Ireland under Regulation 16 of the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006, or
  • permission to remain in the State as a family member of a European Union, EEA or Swiss citizen under the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2006 and 2008 and EU Directive (EU Treaty Rights provisions), or
  • permission to remain because of marriage or civil partnership with an Irish national or because you are the dependent child of such person, or
    humanitarian leave to remain granted before the Immigration Act 1999 came into effect, or
  • permission to remain in Ireland following a decision not to deport you under section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999.

Eligible students need not be exclusively those in the first year of a course in 2010-11 (i.e. some students with a disability may not present with a request for supports for the first time until the second or subsequent year of their course).

Categories of Disability

  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder (including Asperger’s Syndrome)
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Blind/Visual Impairment
  • Deaf/Hard of Hearing
  • Mental Health Condition
  • Neurological Condition
  • Neurologically-based Speech, Language or Communication condition
  • Significant Ongoing Illness
  • Physical Disability
  • Developmental Coordination Disorder (Dyspraxia)
  • Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia or Dyscalculia)

Check Services and Supports Funded

There are three types of assistance typically provided under the Fund for Students with Disabilities. Click on a category to find out more.

  • Assistive Technology Equipment and Software
  • Personal and Academic Support
  • Transport

Check Services and Supports not Funded

The Fund cannot:

  • Grant resources for the provision of any medical equipment, assistance or support
  • Grant resources for the provision of course-related equipment, materials or software
  • Assist applicants with disability-related support needs which would arise whether the applicant was participating in education or not
  • Grant resources for the provision of services that can reasonably be expected to be provided by the college (e.g. counselling, examination accommodations) or by another agency (e.g. local Health Service)
  • Consider applications for support or assistance which relate to the period outside the academic year for the student’s course, or periods during the academic year when the college is closed
  • Provide for any costs associated with assessment or diagnosis of a disability
  • Provide for any costs associated with the day-to-day subsistence, transport or accommodation of academic or personal support personnel.

Check How to Apply

Unlike the Student Grant schemes, the claims process for the Fund does not generally start until you have enrolled in your course.

Application to the Fund is not made by the student, but by the college on the student’s behalf. Click on the icon below that applies to you for further specific information on how to apply.

  • I am enrolled/enrolling in an approved:
  • Higher Education Course in one of the Universities in Ireland or Northern Ireland
  • Higher Education Course in one of the Institutes of Technology in Ireland
  • Higher Education Course in a College in Ireland other than a University or an Institute of Technology
  • Further Education Course in a College of Further Education in Ireland
  • Higher Education Course in a Northern Ireland College of Further and Higher Education
  • Higher Education Course in a Higher Education Institution in the European Union (other than Ireland or Northern Ireland)

Check the Application and Funding Process

Funding is allocated to the college, not the student. The college has full discretion in decisions on the allocation of the Fund at local level, and remains responsible for the management of the funding throughout the duration of each year. The applicants are generally not required to organise the services/supports or source equipment themselves – this is done by the college in consultation with the applicants.

There are two key stages to the claims process: a first-time claim and a claim for continuing students. Click on either button below to find out more about the process.

  • First-Time Claim
  • Claim for Continuing Students

Check Verification of Disability

Before a first-time claim for funding can be submitted, colleges will require documentary evidence of disability from the student, which the college will verify against set criteria. It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide this documentation to the college. For claims for continuing students, evidence of disability documentation is not required to be re-submitted to the college.

Those providing documentary evidence of disability must be independent of the Fund. Documentary evidence will not be accepted from persons who will or are likely to be subsequently responsible, should the application be successful, for providing learning support or other interventions which are grant-aided by the Fund.

Letters from GPs are not acceptable in any circumstances as documentary evidence of disability.

A CAO Evidence of Disability form is acceptable as documentary evidence of disability in cases other than Specific Learning Difficulties.

  • Further Information on Requirements for Evidence of Disability Documentation
  • Further Information on the Persons/Specialists Who Should Provide Evidence of Disability Documentation for the Various Categories of Disabilities

Other Supports and Services for Students with Disabilities

Depending on the college and the resources available, colleges may offer a range of additional services and supports above and beyond what is eligible for funding under the Fund for Students with Disabilities. These include:

  • Disability service with dedicated disability support staff
  • Measures to enhance the accessibility of buildings, such as wheelchair lifts
  • Non-standard admissions procedures, whereby students with disabilities may be admitted to a course without necessarily having achieved the full CAO points level for that course
  • Tailored induction programmes for students with disabilities or students with specific categories of disabilities
  • Access to student accommodation units (on campus or otherwise) reserved specifically for students with disabilities
  • Psycho-educational assessment for students experiencing problems associated with specific learning difficulties/dyslexia

Disability Access Route to Education – DARE
The Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) is a third level alternative admissions scheme for school-leavers whose disabilities have had a negative impact on their second level education. DARE offers reduced points places to school leavers who as a result of having a disability have experienced additional educational challenges in second level education.

DARE has been set up by a number of colleges and universities as evidence shows that disability can have a negative impact on how well a student does at school and whether they go on to college.


Further Information

People with disabilities can find out more about what colleges can offer them through a range of sources/means, including:

  • The college prospectus
  • The college disability policy (local VECs are an additional source for colleges of further education)
  • The college website (local VEC websites are an additional source for colleges of further education)
  • AHEAD, the Association of Higher Education Access and Disability
  • Disability Offices (for universities and some Institutes of Technology) or Access Offices (for most Institutes of Technology and other colleges of higher education)