Back to Education Programme - SW 70


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A - Back to Education Allowance (BTEA)

  1. What is the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA)?
  2. What are the study options?
  3. How do I qualify for BTEA?
  4. How do I apply?
  5. Rate of payment?
  6. Do you monitor the Allowance?
  7. Can I appeal against a decision?

1. What is the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA)?

The Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) is a scheme for unemployed people, lone parents and people with disabilities who are getting certain payments from the Department of Social Protection.

The allowance can be paid to people who wish to pursue approved second or third level courses of education. BTEA is not an unemployment payment. The Allowance is paid instead of the Social Welfare Payment that entitled you to take part in the BTEA scheme.

If you are signing for unemployment credits or submitting medical certificates for illness credits, you may apply to take part in the scheme but you will not receive any payment from the Department of Social Protection. From 1 June 2014, new applications must be assessed by a Case Officer.

2. What are the study options?

There are two study options under the scheme:

Second Level Option

You can attend a second level course of education at any community, comprehensive, secondary or vocational school.

The course must be:

  • full-time day course, and
  • lead to a qualification recognised by the Department of Education and Skills, or
  • lead to a qualification approved by the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC).

Courses include the Junior Certificate, Leaving Certificate, Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) or a National Diploma (BTEC).

Also, full-time third level Foundation or Access courses of education are recognised under the Second Level Option of the BTEA scheme.

Third Level Option

You can take a third level course at any approved university, third level college or institution as long as it is:

  • a full-time day course, and
  • approved by the Department of Education and Skills for the Student Grant Scheme (under the Student Support Act 2011 and administered by SUSI),

 or

  • recognised by the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC).

Note:
The postgraduate option of the BTEA scheme is only for people who wish to take:

  • a postgraduate course of study that leads to a Higher Diploma (H. Dip.) qualification in any discipline, or
  • a Professional Masters of Education (Primary or Secondary teaching).

Only postgraduate courses in Ireland are eligible for the BTEA scheme.

Other postgraduate qualifications including a Master's degree are not recognised for BTEA purposes.

You will not get the BTEA if you already hold a postgraduate qualification.

3. How do I qualify for BTEA?

The BTEA is for a wide range of people who might want to return to education, so people qualify in different ways, depending on their age and circumstances.

To qualify you must be:

  • aged 18 and under 21 and out of formal education for two years,
  • aged at least 21, or
  • aged at least 24 if you want to pursue postgraduate study, and
  • getting one of the following for at least,
    • 3 months (78 days** of unemployment) for the 6 Second Level Option
    • 9 months (234 days** of unemployment) for the Third Level Option
      • Jobseeker's Allowance or Benefit,
      • Farm Assist or Fish Assist,
      • One-Parent Family Payment,
      • Jobseekers Transition Payment,
      • Deserted Wife's Allowance or Benefit,
      • Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory or Non-Contributory Pension,
      • Prisoner's Wife's Allowance, or
      • Carer's Allowance.

You can also apply for BTEA if you are:

  • aged at least 18, or
  • aged at least 24 if you want to do postgraduate study, and
  • getting one of the following for at least,
    • 3 months (78 days** of unemployment) for the Second Level Option
    • 9 months (234 days** of unemployment) for the Third Level Option
    • 12 months (312 days**) for the Professional Masters of Education
      • Blind Pension,
      • Disability Allowance,
      • Invalidity Pension,
      • Incapacity Supplement (based on a life Disablement Pension), or
      • *Two years for Illness Benefit.

* Time spent on Illness Benefit can count towards the qualifying period, as long as at least 50% of the qualifying period was spent on the relevant social welfare payment that actually qualifies you to take part in the BTEA scheme. However, the 50% rule is relaxed for persons in receipt of Illness Benefit and who subsequently qualifies for another qualifying illness related payment.

**Note:
Number of unemployment days which are paid or credited in accordance with jobseekers legislation.

Persons awarded Statutory Redundancy under Irish legislation may have immediate access to the BTEA scheme, (or within one year of the award of the Statutory Redundancy) provided an entitlement to a relevant Social Welfare payment is established immediately prior to commencing an approved course of study. However, persons who opt for a voluntary redundancy scheme cannot have immediate access to BTEA.

In general, the approved full-time course must lead to a higher qualification on the National Framework of Qualifications other than that already held. Existing graduates should not have an entitlement to BTEA to pursue a course at a similar qualification level. If a person holds a Fetac level 4 qualification, they must be progressing to a level 5 qualification. A person who already holds a level 7 ordinary degree can only apply for the one year add-on honours degree course.  They are not eligible to commence a new four year level 8 degree course.

From June 2014, BTEA can be approved for a person who already holds a Level 5 or 6 qualification under the National Framework of Qualifications to undertake a course at the same level. This change in the progression rule only applies in certain limited circumstances to second level courses at level 5 and 6. 

Note:

  • Time spent on BTEA, VTOS, Full-time Solas Training course, Tús, National Internship Scheme, Work Placement Programme, Part-Time Job Incentive Scheme, Community Employment Schemes, Social Economy Programme, Rural Social   Scheme, Back to Work Enterprise Scheme, Short Term Enterprise Scheme, Gateway or Job Assist may count towards the qualifying period. This provision applies only in cases where the applicant has established an entitlement to a qualifying social welfare payment immediately prior to commencement of their course. Periods spent on any qualifying payment and periods on other activation schemes which are not broken by more than 12 months (52 weeks) may be used in determining the qualifying period criteria.

    Only in circumstances where a Case Officer is satisfied that a course of study represents a better activation option, should an applicant cease engagement on these programmes prior to completion.

  • Eligibility to BTEA does not extend to Qualified Adults of participants of these schemes.

  • Time spent on Youthreach can count towards the qualifying period for BTEA once an entitlement to a relevant social welfare payment is established, before, or after completion of the Youthreach Programme.

  • Time spent on Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) or Direct Provision from the Health Service Executive can count towards the qualifying period for BTEA provided an ntitlement to a relevant social welfare payment is established before starting the course of education.

  • In the case where a person drops out of one of these schemes a case officer may recommend BTEA as a better intervention.

  • Time spent in prison can be taken, or count towards the qualifying period for BTEA, provided an entitlement to a relevant social welfare payment is established prior to starting an approved course of education.

  • If you qualify for ‘credited contributions’, prior to starting an approved course of study, you will continue to get ‘credits’ while you are on BTEA.

  • You must be starting your course at year one.

    However, you can apply * if you:

  • a) Are exempt from part of your course because of a qualification you received in previous course. For example, you have a higher certificate in a course that you now wish to pursue to degree level.

    b) Completed the earlier year(s) of the course as a part-time student.

    c) Had completed the earlier year(s) on a full-time basis before becoming unemployed, or being made redundant and receiving statutory redundancy from their full-time employment, (jobseekers opting for voluntary redundancy are excluded from this provision).

    * Subject to satisfying the other scheme conditions.

 

For current information on the schemes qualifying conditions, please contact your local Intreo Centre or:

Back to Education Schemes
Department of Social Protection
Social Welfare Services
Government Buildings
Shannon Lodge
Carrick-on-Shannon
Co. Leitrim.

Tel: 071 96 72698

BTEA for Qualified Adults

Both partners can simultaneously qualify for a BTEA payment and can be supported to undertake courses of study.

The Qualified Adult Dependent of a person in receipt of one of the qualifying payments for BTEA purposes may be approved for BTEA provided they establish an entitlement to a BTEA qualifying payment in their own right and subject to satisfying all other BTEA conditions. Periods spent in receipt of a Qualified Adult Allowance on qualifying payments should be counted in addition to any periods in receipt of a qualifying payment in their own right provided the claims are not broken by more than 12 months. This provision does not extend to provide eligibility for the Qualified Adult Dependent of person made Statutory Redundant.
 
Eligibility to BTEA does not extend to Qualified Adults of participants of activation schemes. 

4. How do I apply?

You should contact your local second or third level school or college to get details of their courses. They will advise you on how to get a place on the course of your choice.

When you have been accepted on a course, notify us by filling in the form BTE 1.

Applications for BTEA must be made before the start of an approved course but late applications will be accepted if received within 30 days of the starting date of the course.

The social welfare payment you get indicates where you should send the completed form BTE 1 From 1 June 2014, new applications will be assessed by a Case Officer.

  • If you are getting:
    • Deserted Wife's Benefit or Allowance,
    • Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory or Non-Contributory Pension,
    • Prisoner's Wife's Allowance, or
    • Blind Pension

send the completed BTE 1 form to:

Department of Social Protection
Social Welfare Services
College Road
Sligo.

return the completed BTE 1 to your local Intreo Centre or your local Social Welfare Office.

  • If you are getting:
    • Disability Allowance,
    • Invalidity Pension,
    • Incapacity Supplement, or
    • Carer's Allowance
send the completed BTE 1 form to:

Department of Social Protection
Social Welfare Services
Ballinalee Road
Longford.

  • If you are getting Illness Benefit for at least two years (see note above), send the completed BTE 1 form to the:

Back to Education Schemes
Department of Social Protection
Illness Benefit Section
Áras Mhic Dhiarmada
Store Street
Dublin 1.

5. Rate of payment?

If you are a new entrant on a social welfare payment, other than an age related jobseekers payment, who qualifies for the Back to Education Allowance, the weekly rate payable will replace your existing payment. Where applicable, you may also qualify for increases in respect of a qualified adult and each qualified child.

New entrants under 26 years of age on an age related jobseekers payment, will receive a personal maximum rate of €160. In cases where means exist, they will be assessed against the €160 rate.  

From 2016/17 academic year, new BTEA participants, who take up part-time work within the academic year will be assessed in accordance with your primary payment. Where a change of circumstances based on means arises (i.e. where your spouse/partner commences or loses work, increased income) your BTEA payment rate must be revised using the rules applicable to means on your qualifying payment.

You can get Back to Education Allowance direct to your account in a financial institution. This account must be a current or deposit savings account not a mortgage account.

Note:

  • If you were previously getting an unemployment payment, the allowance is paid during the academic year only. It is not paid for the summer period between academic years.
  • BTEA participants who cannot find a job during the summer may claim an unemployment payment, but only if they satisfy the usual qualifying conditions.
  • If you are going on to the next year of your course or moving to a higher qualification, you will get your BTEA from the start of the new academic year if you satisfy the rules for the primary payment, for example satisfy the means test for Jobseekers Allowance.
  • If you finish one course, but intend moving to a higher qualification in the following academic year, you must re-apply for BTEA.
  • It is not possible to receive the BTEA and a Higher Education Student Maintenance Grant at the same time. However, you may be eligible for the student services charge and/or tuition fees under the student grant scheme. Please check www.education.ie for details.
Secondary benefits

You may keep any secondary benefits you already have such as Fuel Allowance, Diet Supplement, Rent Supplement or Mortgage Interest Supplement (Any increase in income may affect your Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement or if your spouse or partner is in receipt of a means tested payment such as Jobseekers Allowance or Disability Allowance), under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme.

From 2016/17 academic year, new BTEA participants, who take up part-time work within the academic year will be assessed in accordance with their primary payment. Any income which you or your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant get, is assessable for Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement and may affect fuel allowance if payable.
Contact the local office administering Supplementary Welfare Allowance to see how your Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement may be affected.
 

Contact the local office administering Supplementary Welfare Allowance to see how your Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement may be affected.

6. Do you monitor the Allowance?

Yes, you must submit a letter from registrars/student records office/admissions office confirming that you have registered as a full-time day student. You will have to supply this information before you can get any payment. During the academic year, you may have to give confirmation that you are still taking part in the course.

BTEA is not an unemployment payment and participants are not required to 'sign on'.

The prior approval of the Department must always be sought by Jobseeker's Allowance and Jobseeker's Benefit recipients for participating on any course of education. Failure to seek this approval may result in an overpayment and possible prosecution.

Please note that if you cease your course of education or take up employment you should notify the Department immediately. You may also be liable to repay BTEA monies paid. If you re-apply for any social welfare payment, you must fulfil the qualifying conditions for the scheme. These include disclosure of all earnings and other income.

7. Can I appeal against a decision?

The Back to Education Allowance is a non-statutory scheme and, as such, if you disagree with a decision on your application you do not have a right to appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

However, you can request (in writing) a review of your case within 21 days, by another officer of the relevant local Intreo Centre, local Social Welfare Office or section, enclosing any new evidence in support of your request for a review.

Last modified:05/08/2016
 

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