Unemployed third level students can apply for financial assistance through the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection upon completion of their final year of coursework, according to the department’s press office. However, those with an internship built in as part of the course requirements are not able to apply for jobseeker’s assistance, as they must be available to work full-time from the commencement of the application.

There are two main schemes aimed at providing financial aid for students finishing their education:

Jobseeker’s allowance is available for Irish residents who are actively seeking work and are capable of full-time work. The scheme is means tested, meaning the Department will consider all household income and savings, including those from a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant. This does not include income from other students living in the same accommodation.

Students will have to provide proof of identity in the form of a public service card, valid passport or valid driving license. A utility bill, letter from a government department or proof of rent is also required as a proof of address for all services.

“If you have no means, are aged 25 or over, and you are single, you will get the full weekly payment of €203,” according to the Department’s website. For graduates between 18-24 years old, the personal rate is €112.70 per week, but they can receive the full rate if they have a qualified child; they were in the Child and Family Agency (TUSLA) 12 months prior to your 18th birthday or if they were in receipt of the Housing Assistance Payment, Rental Assistance Scheme or social housing payment while living independently.

Jobseeker’s benefit is another payment scheme similar jobseeker’s allowance, but students are required to have paid enough social insurance (PRSI) contributions at class A, H or P. This will be stated on payslips and the Department will have a record of these payments from previous employers. Jobseeker’s benefit is also means-tested, based on income over the governing contribution year.

The youth employment support scheme puts jobseekers aged 18-24 on a work placement programme, with a weekly payment of €229.20. Applicants must have been out of work and received a jobseeker’s allowance or benefit over at least the past 12 months to qualify for the scheme. In some cases, where an applicant has been unemployed for less than 12 months, a case officer may find that that face a significant barrier to work and consider them for the scheme.

Full-time third-level students were previously unable to avail of financial assistance from the Department, however, those who have lost part-time work due to public restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic can apply from for the ‘COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment’. The payment is available to students who lost employment on or after March 13th. Successful applicants receive a payment of €350 a week.

“Decisions on applications can vary as each individual case is different but the case officer in the Intreo Centre will give an indication to the applicant on how long their application may take,” said the press office.

All welfare applications can be made and submitted online at mywelfare.ie.