The Student Assistance Fund (SAF) provides financial assistance to students experiencing financial difficulties while attending third level. Students can be assisted towards the rent, childcare costs, transport costs and books/class materials.
In 2012/2013 the number of students who availed of the SAF was 17,840. This increase was due to a once-off supplementary funding which was given in the context of long grant delays/issues encountered by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) in its initial year of operation.
SAF recipients for subsequent years were as follows:
2013/2014: 15,166 students; 2014/2015: 14,959 students; 2015/2016: 15,772 students; 2016/2017: 16,019 students; 2017/2018: 14,156 students.
While the numbers of recipients decreased in 2017/18 the allocation to the Student Assistance Fund has increased. In 2016/2017 almost €8m was allocated for the Student Assistance Fund (SAF). In 2017/2018 SAF was extended to support part-time students who are lone parents and from other target groups in the National Access Plan by adding a further €1m to the Fund. A total of €9.1m was allocated through the Student Assistance Fund (SAF) in 2017/2018.
In December 2018 a further €1 million was added to the Fund for students attending Professional Masters of Education courses, who are experiencing financial difficulty.