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Supports for Students with a Disability Going to College

By January 10, 2023June 28th, 2023No Comments

If you are a student with a disability, it is important to know that there are several supports and programmes available, to help you achieve your educational goals at college or university.

We can talk you through the different supports that are out there for students with a disability – you can chat online to a trained Youth Information Officer or leave us a message and we can get back to you.


A really good place to start is AHEAD (Association for Higher Education Access and Disability). AHEAD promotes full access to and participation in further and higher education for students with disabilities and to enhance their employment prospects on graduation. AHEAD provides information on a range of  educational supports for students with disabilities at third level. There is also information about accessing college. Here is a short video that explains what AHEAD has to offer.

What supports are there to help me apply for college?

AHEAD website has a section on how to apply for college including a step by step guide to the disability related sections of the CAO form. Check out this link on accessing college.

ACCESS admission schemes help students who face extra barriers – family or financial background or have a disability – and therefore may find it more difficult to get into college. There are two scheme (HEAR and DARE) available for students through ACCESS. You can apply for both schemes here if both are relevant to you.

DARE (The Disability Access Route to Education) Scheme offers ‘reduced points’ college places to school leavers who as a result of having a disability have experienced addition educational challenges in second level education.

Important Deadlines! 1stFebruary & 1st March: If you wish to apply for a college place under the DARE scheme – you apply through the Central Applications Office (CAO) by 1 February 2023 at 17:00. You must click on the ‘Modify Disability/SLD (and DARE Application) Status’ button on the online CAO application form and follow the instructions provided – for most institutionsyou must complete this part of your application before 1 March at 5:15pm. You will then be directed to the separate online Supplementary Information Form. More information on the following link.

What supports are there when I am in college?

Start with yourself! – It is important to remember that you are probably in the best position in identifying what supports you require to help you succeed in your studies, as you know your disability best. But to give you an idea what is available, the AHEAD website has a range of information about educational supports for students with disabilities at third level.

AHEAD website has a section on getting support after you’ve been offered a College place and how to access what supports are available when you are in college – Check out this link on Being in College

Disability or Access Services in the third level colleges are responsible for giving support and advice to students with disabilities. Check each college website to see what services they have available to students. Contact these Disability/ Access Services before going to the college and see what they can provide you to support you during your college life. They will talk to you about your support needs and arrange things like assistive technology, training, note-taking services, learning supports. Register with the Disability/ Access Service when you registering in the college.

Here are the contact details of the Access Officers in colleges around the country.

Colleges of Further Education – you need to contact the disability support person or the school principal and find out what is available in the College you hope to go to. It is important you this before you start the course as the sooner they know what supports you need, the sooner they can arrange to put these in place.

What financial supports are available?

There a number of different types of funding available to help you along your way. Some funds are specific to students with disabilities while all students are eligible to apply for others.

AHEAD have done up a really handy summary list of funding available:

Fund for Students with Disabilities

  • Eligible: Disabled Students in full time public-funded courses only – part-time, VTOS, Teagasc & private courses not eligible
  • For: Educational supports
  • Note: Medical verification required

Student Grant

  • Eligible: All Students
  • For: Student Contribution fees & living costs whilst in college
  • Note: Means Tested

Back to Education Allowance

  • Eligible: All over 21 years of age on qualifying social welfare payment who are at least 2 years out of formal education
  • For: Living costs whilst in college
  • Note: For those going back to education & moving off a social welfare payment.

Student Assistance Fund

  • Eligible: All full time undergrad/postgrads in participating colleges
  • For: Books, rent etc. when in financial difficulty

Check AHEAD funding info for further details on these funds.


Specific support services

AHEAD – Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD) promotes the participation of students with disabilities in third-level education. Here is a short video that explains how AHEAD help students & graduates with disabilities succeed

DARE – The Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) is a third level alternative admissions scheme for school leavers whose disabilities have had a negative impact on their second level education. has a great section on their website on accessing college and further education for people with dyslexia – a young person shares her experiences of transitioning to college life.

Youth Information – we can talk you through the different supports that are out there for students with a disability – you can chat online to a trained Youth Information Officer or leave us a message and we can get back to you.

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