Financial help with going to school

Title:  Financial help with going to school (School Books Scheme)

Author: Citizens Information Board

Full Text & Source:

The Internet, Online, 21/2/2015

Sample Text

Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance

The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance is designed to help meet the cost of uniforms and footwear for students attending school. To be eligible for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, the applicant (parent or guardian) must be getting certain social welfare benefits or payments for training, employment schemes or adult education and total household income must be below a certain amount.

School Books Grant Scheme

The School Books Grant Scheme is available to State primary and post-primary schools to help with the cost of school books. Funding for this scheme comes from the Department of Education and Skills and the scheme is administered in each school by the school principal.

The scheme is mainly aimed at pupils from low-income families and families experiencing financial hardship. It can be used to set up a book rental scheme within the school or help individual students buy books. The Department of Education prefers schools to use it to set up book rental schemes as this helps more students from low income families. The Department has issued schools with Guidelines for Developing Textbook Rental Schemes in Schools. (pdf file)

Encouraging the school’s board of management and parents’ association to consider the need to keep changes of textbooks to a minimum each year Volunteering to assist the working group operating the book rental scheme; for example… by helping to cover the books in the rental scheme before the  beginning of the school year by sorting, tagging and checking books before they are distributed to students by making up sets of books for distribution to students by helping to check in returning books at the end of the school year by helping to clean and repair returned books used in the rental scheme by assisting the working group with collecting and accounting for rental fees from students and their parents Donating good quality, up-to-date second-hand books that you bought but that your child no longer needs to the school for use in the rental scheme. Offering to assist at fundraising events or to organise sponsorship to help raise funds for buying new books. Sharing your experience of participating in the book rental scheme with the school community in other schools where rental schemes may not be operating – your advice and experience could be invaluable in helping them to get started.

Before your child goes to school, you can:

Ask the school if it has a book rental scheme when you apply to enrol your child in the school Tell the school that you would like to take part in a book rental scheme if they have one available.

Participate in the book rental scheme when your child begins attending the school.

Pay the required deposit and rental fee promptly (for children entering junior infants in primary schools and first year in post-primary schools, the fee and deposit are usually paid in the term before your child comes to school for the first time – often in the April, May or June before the beginning of the school year).

If your child’s school has a book rental scheme, you can:

Apply to have your child participate each year in the book rental scheme

Pay the required deposit and rental fee promptly (usually in the term before the

beginning of the school year)

Impress on your child that the books need to be looked after carefully: encourage your child not to write on the books

Ensure that your child returns the borrowed books promptly at the end of the school year

Share your experience of the book rental scheme with other parents who may not be aware of the benefits of the scheme.

You can help to support the organisation of the book rental scheme in your child’s school by:

Suggesting to the principal of the school or a member of the school’s board of management or parents’ association that establishing a book rental scheme would be a good idea

Helping to create an awareness among parents and the parents’ association of the benefits of book rental schemes; for example, a good idea might be to invite a speaker from another school where a book rental scheme operates successfully to speak at a parents’ association meeting Contributing to any working group that the board of management may establish to help set up or run a book rental scheme

Complying with the rules that are set down for the operation of the rental scheme


Broadly speaking, students who may be eligible for assistance under the School Books Grant Scheme include:

  • Families that are mainly dependent on social welfare payments
  • Families on low incomes, (for example, those receiving Family Income Supplement, and the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance)
  • Families experiencing financial hardship because of particular circumstances (for example, where there is prolonged illness of a parent/guardian, addiction problems, etc.)

Students who are in the care of foster families under arrangements made by a Local Health Office and students participating in Youthreach, VTOS and Post-Leaving Certificate Courses do not qualify for assistance under the School Books Grant Scheme.

Exemption from examination fees

Students whose parent or guardian holds a current medical card do not have to pay the examination fees for Junior or Leaving Certificate. In this case, details of the medical card are put on the fee payment form and the parent then sends the form back to the school. If you are exempt from fees because your parents hold a medical card you are still liable for late fees if you apply after the deadline. More detailed information is available on Leaving Certificate examination fees and Junior Certificate examination fees.

Remote Areas Boarding Grant

Under the Remote Area Grant scheme funding is available to support pupils who live far from a school providing suitable free second-level education. To qualify for a boarding grant the pupil must live at least 4.8 km from a second-level school and more than 3.2 km from a pick-up point on a transport service to such a school. The pupil must be unable to obtain a place in a suitable second-level school within 25 km of their home and must be attending a second-level school providing free second-level education for day pupils. Pupils living on offshore islands which do not have a school providing suitable free second-level education may also qualify for assistance under the scheme. Read more about the Remote Areas Boarding Grant.

How to apply

For assistance under the School Books Grant Scheme you should apply for assistance directly to the principal of your child’s school. The principal has total discretion in deciding which students are most in need. Further information about the operation of the scheme in your child’s school is available from the school principal.

Where to apply

Department of Education and Skills

Primary Administration 1

Tel:(090) 6483731

About Author Annette J Dunlea Irish Writer

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