Returning to education

Back to Education Programme

The Back to Education Programme allows you to return to full-time education and keep your social welfare payments, such as Disability Allowance, and associated secondary benefits for the duration of the course. The Back to Education Programme covers both second and third level approved courses. To qualify, you must be:

  • aged 18 or over
  • getting Disability Allowance for at least 6 months
  • attending an approved full-time course at a recognised school or college.

While on the Back to Education Allowance you can have any other income without affecting your allowance, such as working part-time or during holiday periods. A cost of education allowance (currently €254) is payable at the start of the academic year.

For more information about the Back to Work Allowance, please contact your local Social Welfare Office.

VTOS Scheme

The VTOS scheme is operated through your local Vocational Education Committee. Courses can last up to two years and lead to qualifications such as Junior Certificate, Leaving Certificate, Post Leaving Certificate and City and Guilds Certificates. There is no fee payable for the course and books and materials are provided free of charge.

To participate, you must be:

  • Aged 21 or over
  • Getting Disability Allowance, or another Social Welfare payment, for at least 6 months.

As the VTOS is not means-tested, you can work without affecting your payments. However, if you are getting a Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement, this will be affected by any additional income.

For further information on this scheme, and to discover what courses are available in your area, you should contact your local VEC.

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