Student Assistance Fund

The Student Assistance Fund (SAF) provides financial assistance for students in higher education who are experiencing financial difficulties whilst attending college.

Students can apply for the SAF to help with either temporary or ongoing financial difficulties. The SAF is designed to provide a source of financial support for higher education students in addition to a student grant.

Which institutions participate in the SAF?

  • Universities

    • Dublin City University
    • Maynooth University
    • National University of Ireland, Galway
    • Trinity College Dublin
    • University College Cork
    • University College Dublin
    • University of Limerick
    • Technological University Dublin
  • Institutes of technology

    • Athlone Institute of Technology
    • Cork Institute of Technology
    • Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art Design & Technology
    • Dundalk Institute of Technology
    • Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology
    • Institute of Technology, Carlow
    • Institute of Technology, Sligo
    • Institute of Technology, Tralee
    • Letterkenny Institute of Technology
    • Limerick Institute of Technology
    • Waterford Institute of Technology
  • Other colleges

    • Marino Institute of Education
    • Mary Immaculate College
    • National College of Art and Design
    • National College of Ireland
    • St Patrick’s College, Maynooth
    • Royal College of Surgeons Ireland
    • St Angela’s College

The SAF is not available to students in further education/post-leaving certificate colleges.

Who is eligible for the SAF?

Students on full- or part-time courses leading to a higher education award (National Framework of Qualifications level 6-10) in Irish universities, institutes of technology and other approved colleges can apply.

Students who are lone parents are encouraged to apply as additional funding has been made available to support this group. Support from the SAF may also be available to students studying for a Professional Master of Education, for example to cover the cost of spending time in the Gaeltacht.

What expenses are eligible under the SAF?

The SAF is available to assist students who are unable to meet costs associated with day-to-day participation in higher education, including:

  • books and class materials;
  • rent, heating and lighting bills;
  • food;
  • essential travel;
  • childcare costs; and
  • medical costs.

The above list is not exhaustive, however it is important that the nature of the expenditure for which assistance is being provided is clearly identified.

What expenses are ineligible under the SAF?

Tuition fees, registration fees, student loan repayments or any costs borne by your college are not covered by the SAF.

How do I apply for the SAF?

If you are in financial difficulty, you should contact the access or student services office in your institution for further information on how to apply for the SAF.

Your individual circumstances and financial means will be taken into consideration by your institution when assessing your application for the SAF. Final decisions on awards may be taken by a small committee, including the access officer and student welfare officer.

Applicants may be required to attend a meeting with a member of college staff to discuss their application. Applicants may also be required to provide documentation to verify details of the income and outgoings provided in the application. This may include proof of your own or your parents’ income, as appropriate, and receipts for costs such as rent, bills or childcare.

The SAF is administered on a strictly confidential basis and appropriate and current data protection procedures apply at all stages of the process.

As each participating institution decides how the SAF will be operated at local level, within the overall guidelines set by the Department of Education and Skills, the application process may vary between participating institutions.

As there are limited funds available, institutions must prioritise those who are most in need and not every request for funding can be met. Likewise, participating institutions may not be able to award all the funding being sought by successful applicants.

Where can I get further information?

Student services or access staff in participating institutions can provide further information on the SAF. Some institutions have a closing date for applications so it is important that you check when this is.

Student Guidelines 2018/19


The Student Assistance Fund is managed by the Higher Education Authority on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills. It is co-financed by the European Social Fund through the Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014-2020.