In accessing third level education in this State, students may be liable to pay tuition fees and a student contribution.
The Exchequer meets the cost of tuition fees through the Free Fees Initiative which was introduced in 1995 by the then Government to assist third level undergraduate students in publicly funded higher education institutions. Currently, under the terms of the Initiative, the Exchequer meets the cost of tuition fees in respect of eligible students who are pursuing full-time undergraduate courses of study which are a minimum of two years duration in an approved higher education institution. The main conditions of the scheme are that students must be first-time undergraduates, hold inter alia EU/EEA/Swiss nationality in their own right, and have been ordinarily resident in an EU/EEA/Swiss state for at least three of the five years preceding their entry to an approved third level course
The Student Contribution, which currently stands at €3,000, was introduced by my Department with effect from the 2011/12 academic year replacing the previous Student Services Charge. It should be noted that there has been no increase in the Student Contribution since the 2015/16 academic year.
Measures are in place to assist students and their parents in meeting the cost of the Student Contribution. Almost 50% of full-time undergraduate students have all, or part of, the contribution paid by the State on their behalf through the Student Grant Scheme.
Students may also be requested by their respective institutions to pay an additional student levy. The determination of the level and payment of such levies are a matter for the institutions themselves and are not collected centrally by my Department.
In addition, tax relief provisions are also available so that second and subsequent siblings do not have to bear the full cost of the Student Contribution. Full details are available form the Revenue Commissioners.