Back to Education Allowance - Operational Guideline


Print page

Index

Contents - Back to Education Allowance Scheme Guidelines (July 2019)

1.      The Back to Education Allowance Scheme
1.1         Purpose
1.2         Objective
1.3         Legislative Basis
1.4         What does Back to Education allowance provide?
1.5         This Version
1.6         Administration
1.7         Queries
2.      Study Options
2.1         Overview
2.2         Second Level Option (SLO)
2.3         Second Level Courses in Northern Ireland
2.4         Third Level option (TLO)
2.5         Postgraduate study option (Level 8)
2.6         Courses not eligible for support under BTEA
3.      Criteria and qualifying eligibility
3.1         Overview
3.2         Criteria
3.3         Qualifying payments and Study Option eligibility criteria
3.4         Qualified Adults
3.5         Linking Provisions
3.6         Counting periods on other schemes/payments towards the qualifying period
3.7         Arrangements for persons made redundant
3.8         Specific Conditions to Jobseekers
3.9         Disqualifications
3.10       Exclusions from other schemes
4.      General Information
4.1         Commencing or resuming a course of study
4.2         Commencement of BTEA after first year of an approved course of study
4.3         Definition of Mitigating Circumstances
4.4         Progression in Education Course
4.5         Repeat years
4.6         Failure to complete or deferral of a course
4.7         Back to Education Allowance and Student Grant Scheme (SUSI)
5.      Rates of Payment
5.1         BTEA age related payments from 2017/18 Jobseeker Customers
5.2         Increase payment in respect of qualified adult/child dependent
5.3         Method of Payment
5.4         Duration of BTEA payment
5.5         Cost of Education Allowance
5.6         BTEA tax exemption
6.      Assessment of Means and Work Placements
6.1         Assessment of means and working during the academic year
6.2         Secondary benefits
6.3         Saver Cases
6.4         BTEA while undertaking unpaid work placement/thesis
6.5         Paid Work Placement
6.6         Travel and Subsistence
6.7         BTEA and Erasmus (work abroad)
6.8         Assessment of Bursaries and Scholarships
7.      Applications, Documentation and Decision Procedures.
7.1         Proof of registration and applications
7.2         Timing of Applications
7.3         Late Applications
7.4         Decisions
7.5         Refusals
7.6         Re-examination/review of decision to refuse
7.7         ISTS/TLA systems
8.      Control and change in circumstances
8.1         Control requirements
8.2         Responsibilities of the Divisions/Intreo Centres
8.3         Finish dates and end of academic year processes
8.4         Reviews and Recovery of overpayments
8.5          GDPR/Freedom of Information

Appendix 1
Appendix 2
Appendix 3
Appendix 4

 

APPENDIX 1 - Information Leaflet (SW70) & Application Form (BTE1) available from.

APPENDIX 2 - Relevant changes to TLO/SLO & BTEA since 1990

APPENDIX 3 - National Qualification Framework – Levels of Qualifications


1.1       Purpose

The Back to Education Allowance scheme (BTEA) is an educational opportunities scheme for customers in receipt of certain social welfare payments wishing to pursue second or third level courses of education, subject to meeting the qualifying conditions.

1.2       Objective

The objective is to raise educational and skills levels to enable them to better access to labour market needs.

1.3       Legislative Basis

BTEA is an administrative scheme approved by the Government.  Government Decision S.29416 of 8 October 1996 refers.

1.4       What does Back to Education allowance provide?

The Back to Education allowance provides income support to certain DEASP customers to undertake a range of education and training options with the aim of improving labour market opportunities.  The BTEA scheme has three strands:

  1. Back to Education Allowance (BTEA)
    1. Provides certain categories of DEASP customers with income support to complete a full-time course of study (these rules govern the operation of this strand)
  2. Part-Time Education Option (PTEO)
    1. Enables jobseekers to retain their Jobseekers Allowance/Jobseekers Benefit payment while undertaking a part-time course of study.
    2. Course should not be any longer than one year e.g. year part-time at night
    3. Customer must continue to be genuinely seeking work (GSW) and be available for work
    4. Can avail of distance and on-line learning
    5. Can discuss with Case Officer but does not have to be recommended  
    6. See separate Guidelines on Part-Time Education Option (PTEO)
  3. Education, Training and Development Option (ET&D)
    1. Enables jobseekers to retain their Jobseekers Allowance/Jobseekers Benefit payment while undertaking courses of study of short duration.
    2. Must be recommended by a Case Officer
    3. See separate Guidelines on Education, Training and Development (ET&D)

 

1.5       This Version

This version of the rules and guidelines for the Back to Education Allowance scheme are operational from April 2019 and supersede previous guidelines issued in respect of the scheme.

1.6       Administration        

Policy in respect of the scheme and these rules has been developed and are administered by:
Working Age Schemes Policy
Back to Education Allowance
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Shannon Lodge
Carrick on Shannon
  Co Leitrim

1.7       Queries

Queries of an operational nature and queries from Customers should be addressed locally using these rules and guidelines.  If a query cannot be resolved, a referral should be made, in the first instance, to Intreo Centre management or to the relevant Area Manager.  Queries of a policy nature or of a complex operational nature that cannot be resolved at local level can be emailed to either:
MBX-BTEA_Enquiries for an internal Staff Member
OR
  BTEA_Enquiries@welfare.ie for the external Customer


2.1       Overview

Income support is available under BTEA to enable two study options to be pursued.

  • The Second Level Option (SLO) enables study to be undertaken provided it leads to an award from Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) up to level 6.*
  • The Third Level Option (TLO) enables study to be undertaken to an award at QQI up to level 8 and in limited circumstances to include postgraduate study (Level 9).  BTEA requires that all modules of a full-time course must be completed within the same academic year.

At level 6 there are two award types:

  • Level 6 Advanced Certificate (FET) – enables the learner to develop a comprehensive range of skills, which may be vocationally specific and/or of a  general supervisory nature, and require theoretical understanding.

 

  • Level 6 Higher Certificate (HET) – is normally awarded after completion of a programme of two years duration (120 ECTS credits)

 * There may be some level 6 courses that are also classed as third level.

Level 6 Green Cert can be either full-time or part-time.  For the purposes of BTEA, the Case Officer should ensure that it is a full-time course of study.

2.2       Second Level Option (SLO)

BTEA can be approved for certain DEASP customers to attend a full-time second level course of education at any Community, Comprehensive, Secondary, ETB Centre (Vocational School), College of Further Education (ETB) or Institute of Technology with which the Department of Education and Skills (DES) have a funding relationship.
The course of study being pursued must be a full-time day course and lead to a qualification that is:

  • Recognised by the Department of Education and Skills OR,
  • Awarded by the Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI).

The types of full-time day courses for which BTEA can be approved are:

  • Junior Certificate
  • Leaving Certificate
  • Repeat Leaving Certificate in limited circumstances i.e. on the recommendation of a Case Officer (section 4.2 refers)
  • Post-leaving Certificate (PLC)
  • Those, other than listed above, provided by Educational Training Boards (ETBs)
  • Foundation/Access courses provided by Universities and Institutes of Technology

In addition to existing Access/Foundation courses, approval may be given to preparatory third level courses of at least 18 week’s duration requiring full-time attendance and conferring a Special Purpose Award of a minimum of 30 credits that accumulate towards the student’s chosen third level qualification.

2.3       Second Level Courses in Northern Ireland

BTEA can be approved for Second Level courses in Northern Ireland provided they lead to a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ).

  • A Business and Technology Educational Council (BTEC) National Diploma is to be considered a second level qualification.
  • A BTEC Higher National Diploma (HND) is to be considered an award at third level.

2.4       Third Level option (TLO)

BTEA is only permitted for courses commencing in Ireland and Northern Ireland.  However, BTEA can be approved to avail of a year abroad if it is deemed to be an integral/mandatory/compulsory part of the course of study (as verified by the Registrars/Admission Office).  Where possible this should be discussed with a Case Officer at the time of applying for BTEA.  (Refer to Section 6.7)

2.5       Postgraduate study option (Level 8)

Only in limited circumstances can BTEA be approved for DEASP Customers undertaking postgraduate studies leading to:

  • a Higher Diploma (H.Dip) (Level 8) in any discipline OR
  • a Professional Masters in Education (PME - Level 9) which replaced the Professional Diploma in Education (PDE) from September 2014 (This provision applies only to the PME based on sanction from Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) dated 2003.  No other masters can be approved for BTEA) OR
  • a Masters degree (Level 9) based solely on life experience where the customer holds no other third level qualification.  In such cases a Case Officer must ensure that the customer provides documentary evidence from the third level institution confirming that admission is based solely on life experience and that they do no hold any third level qualification.
  • Apart from Springboard there are no other circumstances where BTEA can be approved where the DEASP Customer already holds a postgraduate qualification.
  • Postgraduate study option is not available for study in Northern Ireland.

2.6       Courses not eligible for support under BTEA

The following are not considered eligible courses of study for BTEA purposes:

  • The only Masters (Level 9) that are considered for BTEA are those detailed at (b) and (c) above.  Note:  A Professional Masters in Adult and Community Education, as it is not a pre-requisite for employment in adult education services nor, does it serve as an alternative to the Professional Masters in Education required to qualifying for a general teaching role
  • Part-time or evening courses
  • Courses leading to minor/special purpose awards for component certificates where less than 30 credits are awarded and/or are less than 18 weeks duration
  • Single modules or components of a course of study
  • Single semesters
  • Distance learning or on-line courses (e.g. Hibernia)   BTEA is only applicable to full-time students and removes a Jobseekers obligation for genuinely seeking work (GSW).  All distance learning opportunities can be pursued while seeking employment or while in employment.
  • Blended Learning/mixed/hybrid or integrative learning i.e. combination of e-learning with the opportunity to personally interact with lecturers and fellow students where they may view lectures, access readings, ask questions, and complete assignments online in virtual learning environments (VLE) like Moodle and through online classrooms such as Zoom.
  • Full-time study outside Ireland and Northern Ireland

Criteria and qualifying eligibility

3.1       Overview

Responsibility for securing a place on a course rests with the DEASP Customer.  The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection can provide assistance and advice only in this regard.

3.2       Criteria

In order to qualify for BTEA the customer must be:

  • a specific age
  • in receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment for a specified period of time
  • commencing the first year of a course of study (refer to section 4.2)
  • pursuing a course of study which requires full-time college attendance for the complete academic year
  • undertaking a course of study that is leading to a recognised qualification in a recognised college (refer to sections 2.2 - 2.4)
  • progressing in the levels of education held (refer to section 4.4)
  • jobseekers on ‘credits only’ can qualify for BTEA once they have the qualifying period

3.3       Qualifying payments and Study Option eligibility criteria

This section applies to qualifying payments and study option criteria tabled into 3 categories:
1.         Jobseeker Payments
2.         One Parent Family and
3.         Disability & Caring payments
Refer to the following tables and also see appendix 4 for combined table

In the case of Jobseeker payments a DEASP Case Officer must have considered and recommended the application prior to a decision to allow BTEA.
All customers must continue to satisfy the rules, including means test (where applicable) while in receipt of BTEA.

JOBSEEKER
Qualifying Payments

Second
Level Option (SLO)

Third
Level Option
(TLO)

Post Graduate Option

 

  • Jobseekers Allowance

(means-tested)

  • Farm and Fish Assist

(means-tested)

  • Jobseekers Benefit

 

  • Jobseekers Benefit Credits ONLY* – not paid by the Department

* Customer may satisfy the conditions for Jobseekers Benefit on the commencement of a new Relevant Tax year (RTL – Jan 2019) formerly known as the Governing Contribution Year (GCY)

 

 

  • Aged at least 21 years
  • And have 3 months (78 days) in receipt of DEASP payment

 

  • or 2 years out of formal education if aged between 18 and 20.

 

 

 

  • Aged at least 21 years
  • And have 9 months (234 days) in receipt of DEASP payment

 

  • or 2 years out of formal education(1 ) if aged between 18 and 20

 

 

  • Aged at least 24 years

 

  • And have 9 months (234 days) for Higher Diploma/Postgraduate option OR

 

  • 12 months (312 days) in receipt of DEASP payment for the Professional Masters in Education

 

(1)Periods spent on SOLAS/ETB full-time training courses or Youthreach can count towards the relevant qualifying period and may be regarded as periods out of formal education.

ONE PARENT FAMILY Qualifying Payments

Second
Level Option (SLO)

Third
Level Option (TLO)

Post Graduate Option

  • One Parent Family Payment (means-tested) * age related change introduced from April 2019

 

  • Aged at least 18 years
  • And have 3 months (78 days) in receipt of DEASP payment

 

 

 

  • Aged at least 18 years
  • And have 9 months (234 days) in receipt of DEASP payment

 

 

  • Aged at least 24 years
  • And have 9 months (234 days) for Higher Diploma/Postgraduate option OR

 

  • 12 months (312 days) in receipt of DEASP payment for the Professional Masters in Education
  • Jobseekers Transition payment (means-tested)

 

  • Deserted Wife’s Benefit/Allowance

       (means-tested)

  • Widows/Widower’s Contributory Pension

 

  • Widows/Widower’s Non-Contributory Pension

       (means-tested)

  • Prisoner’s Wife’s Allowance (means-tested)

 

  • Aged at least 21 years

 

  • And have 3 months (78 days) in receipt of DEASP payment

 

 

  • Aged at least 21 years

 

  • And have 9 months (234 days) in receipt of DEASP payment

 

  • Aged at least 24 years

 

  • And have 9 months (234 days) for Higher Diploma/Postgraduate option OR

 

  • 12 months (312 days) in receipt of DEASP payment for the Professional Masters in Education

 

DISABILITY & CARING
Qualifying Payments

Second
Level Option
(SLO)

Third
Level Option
(TLO)

Post Graduate Option

  • Carers Allowance (means-tested) – note Caree must be transferred to another recipient

 

  • Disability Allowance

       (means-tested)

  • Incapacity Supplement (means-tested based on a Life Disablement)

 

  • Blind Pension

       (means-tested)

  • Invalidity Pension

 

  • Illness Benefit/Credits (separate conditions apply refer to section 3.5)

 

 

  • Aged at least 18 years

 

  • And have 3 months (78 days) in receipt of DEASP payment

 

 

 

  • Aged at least 18 years

 

  • And have 9 months (234 days) in receipt of DEASP payment

 

 

 

  • Aged at least 24 years

 

  • And have 9 months (234 days) for Higher Diploma/Postgraduate option OR

 

  • 12 months (312 days) in receipt of DEASP payment for the Professional Masters in Education

 

 

3.4       Qualified Adults

Both partners can simultaneously qualify for a BTEA payment and can be supported to undertake courses of study.
The Qualified Adult Dependant (QA) 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 (see tables above) in their own right and subject to satisfying all other BTEA conditions. This provision is operable for all new QA customers from 2nd June 2015.
Periods spent in receipt of a QA 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 QA of a person made statutory redundant nor does it extend to a QA of customers of activation schemes.

3.5       Linking Provisions

Periods spent on any* qualifying payment and periods on other schemes/payment which are not broken by more than 12 months (52 weeks) can be combined in determining if a customer satisfies the qualifying period criteria.
Illness Benefit*
BTEA can be approved for a customer currently in receipt of Illness Benefit (IB) payment or IB credits or the QA of such payments/credits provided they satisfy the age requirements and are in receipt of the IB payment or credits for at least two (2) years.
Where a customer does not have two (2) years on the IB payment or credits, periods spent on other BTEA qualifying payments (refer to tables at 3.3) can be combined with Illness Benefit (IB) to count towards the qualifying period provided that there is 50% of the time accounted for on the current primary payment that qualifies the customer for the scheme.

3.6       Counting periods on other schemes/payments towards the qualifying period


Periods spent on a range of other education, training, work placement and activation support schemes can be taken into account when determining the required number of days in receipt of a qualifying payment.
The provision applies ONLY in cases where the customer has established an entitlement to a qualifying social welfare payment in their own right and subject to satisfying all other conditions immediately prior to commencement of their course.

  The schemes/payments are limited to the following:

  • Back to Work Enterprise Allowance
  • Community Employment
  • Direct Provision
  • Educational Programmes e.g. Solas/ETB’s
  • Ex-offenders (Periods spent in prison in this State)
  • Jobseekers (with a Jobpath category)
  • Part-time Job Incentive Scheme
  • Qualified Adults – both partners can simultaneously qualify for BTEA payment and can be supported to undertake courses of study.  Eligibility to BTEA does not extend to Qualified Adults of customers of activation schemes or to dependants of a person made statutory redundant.
  • Rural Social Scheme
  • Short Term Enterprise Allowance
  • Supplementary Welfare Allowance
  • Tús
  • VTOS
  • YESS (Youth Employment Support Scheme)
  • Youthreach (establishes an entitlement to a qualifying social welfare payment prior to/after participation on the Youthreach course - RSU circular 39/16 refers)

 

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


3.7       Arrangements for persons made redundant

Jobseekers awarded Statutory Redundancy under the Redundancy Payments Acts 1967 - 2012 have access to the BTEA Scheme immediately on being made redundant or within one year of the award of Statutory Redundancy. The jobseeker must establish an entitlement to a relevant Social Welfare payment immediately prior to the commencement of an approved course of study.
A Jobseeker who opts for voluntary/mandatory redundancy cannot be approved for BTEA under this provision. Qualified Adults of jobseekers that receive Statutory Redundancy cannot be approved for BTEA under this provision.

3.8       Specific Conditions to Jobseekers

Jobseekers Benefit (JB)
From the 1st January 2015, all new BTEA applications received will cease payment when entitlements to jobseekers benefit exhausts.

Cumulative Total (CT) days for those receiving jobseekers benefit will no longer be frozen and consequently, the BTEA customer will be entitled to payment for the duration of their entitlement on jobseekers benefit only.  JB BTEA customers will receive full personal rate of JB irrespective of whether they are engaged in part-time work or not.  Casual dockets are not required. A QA rate is applied as per JB claims.
 
BTEA will only remain in payment if the customer qualifies for another BTEA qualifying payment once their Jobseekers Benefit ceases.  In such circumstances, an application must be made and assessed for the appropriate jobseeker or other scheme payment in the normal manner.  Where an entitlement to retain the BTEA payment is established, the payment can be approved at the rate appropriate to the new qualifying payment.   A customer may have an entitlement to a credits only claim where BTEA can continue, however, no payment will be made by the Department.  Where no entitlement to another qualifying payment exists, BTEA payment ceases.
 
The customer is obliged to inform the Department of any change in their circumstances which may affect their continued entitlement. This should be noted for when JB expires and establishing another qualifying payment to retain the BTEA.  (RSU circular 37/17 refers)

Saver Clause

  • A saver clause will apply for those customers who commenced a course of study and qualified for BTEA on the basis of a jobseeker’s benefit payment prior to January 1st 2015.  Prior to the introduction of this change the BTEA payment replaced the JB payment while participating on the BTEA scheme.

Qualified Adult

  • BTEA applications approved for qualified adults of JB customers up to 31/12/14 for courses commencing in 2014 or earlier, are entitled to receive the QA rate of payment for the duration of their course.  For all new courses, BTEA rules at the time of the new application will apply.

 

Jobseekers Allowance (JA)

From 2016/17 academic year the CT for JA BTEA should no longer be frozen for new customers.
Signing Arrangements
Jobseeker recipients who qualify for income support or credits only are not required to sign-on the Live Register while attending an approved course of study during the academic year.

3.9       Disqualifications

Entitlement to BTEA will cease and payments must be terminated in situations where:

  • The customer completes the course of study
  • The customer no longer attends or has discontinued pursuing their course of study.  They should not be approved for a BTEA payment to pursue a different course of study and recovery of sums paid as an overpayment should be considered.  Evidence of mitigating circumstances may be taken into account (refer to section 4.3)
  • The course of study ceases or is discontinued by the educational institution
  • Where entitlement to the qualifying payment is no longer satisfied (such as on the grounds of excessive means) for BTEA customers approved after 1st January 2013
  • The customer fails to provide proof of continued attendance at the course of study on a full-time basis
  • The customer takes up full-time employment (this excludes periods of work placements considered to be an integral/mandatory or compulsory part of the course of study) (refer to sections 6.1 - 6.7)

3.10     Exclusions from other schemes

BTEA customer’s cannot work full-time or engage simultaneously on:

  • Community Employment
  • Tús
  • Rural Social Scheme
  • SOLAS/ETB training programmes
  • Wages Subsidy Scheme (WSS)
  • Part-time Job Incentive (PTJI)
  • VTOS
  • Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS)
  • Jobsplus
  • Youthreach
  • Any employment, training scheme or training programme operated by the National Learning Network (NLN)

Working Family Payment recipients (formerly Family Income Supplement FIS) are not eligible for the Back to Education Allowance scheme.

4.1       Commencing or resuming a course of study

BTEA awarded from academic year 2015/16
From the academic year 2015/16 all new BTEA customers (including customers commencing a new course) with eligibility based on a qualifying payment must re-establish their entitlement to the qualifying payment at the beginning of each academic year.  Customers must continue to satisfy the means test (where applicable) during the academic year (refer to section 6). The conditionality attached to the qualifying payment must be examined at the beginning of each academic year in order for BTEA to be approved.

BTEA awarded after 1st January 2013 up to academic year 2015/16
Where BTEA was awarded after the 1st of January 2013, and where the customer is progressing to the next year of a course of study or progressing in their levels of education, BTEA should be reapproved from the commencement of the new academic year, subject to continuing to satisfy the means test of the qualifying payment . In the case of a jobseeker this is irrespective of whether they were in receipt of an unemployment payment for the summer period or not.

BTEA awarded prior to 1st January 2013
Where BTEA was awarded prior to the 1st January 2013, and where the customer is progressing to the next year of a course of study or progressing in their levels of education, BTEA should be reapproved from the commencement of the new academic year.  In the case of a jobseeker this is irrespective of whether they were in receipt of an unemployment payment for the summer period or not. There is no requirement to re-establish entitlement to an underlying qualifying payment and BTEA payment can continue.

4.2       Commencement of BTEA after first year of an approved course of study

In certain circumstances, the provision that a customer must be commencing the first year of a full-time course to be approved for BTEA can be waived, subject to all other scheme conditions being fulfilled.
Deciding Officers and Case Officers may waive the conditions where the BTEA customer:

  • Has been granted an exemption to part of the course or credits by the educational institution based on a previous qualification(s), other education attainment or life/work experience or
  • Has completed the earlier year(s) of the course of study on a part-time basis or
  • 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
  • Is permitted by the educational institution to proceed to the next year of a course after having previously discontinued pursuing their course of study or deferred a year due to mitigating circumstances (refer to section 4.3) that would have made it unreasonable to expect a customer to have continued the course
  • From 4 July 2013, former One Parent Family payment customers affected by age related change to OPF in full-time education that did not opt for BTEA at the start of the course may be admitted to BTEA i.e. with effect from a current date.  The customer must satisfy all the other eligibility rules with the exception of the late claims provision and not first year of the course.  The customer cannot be in receipt of both BTEA and a Student Maintenance grant.  RSU circulars, 47/13, 61/13, 24/14 and 17/15 detail the position.
  • An OPF customer who is engaged in a course of study and the youngest child has reached 7 years and who is not already in receipt of BTEA has two options:
    • Remain on their JST and receive SUSI grant.  Such customers have 7 years on JST in which to complete their relevant studies.  Should their course of study not be completed before their youngest child reaches 14 years they will not be able to complete the course on JA as GSW (genuinely seeking work) is not satisfied.

 

    • Alternatively the Customer could opt for BTEA from their OPF claim in which case they will not be able to avail of the SUSI grant.  The cost of education allowance payment may be payable. (Refer to section 4.7 and 5.5)
    • In these cases an appointment should be made with a Case Officer who will advise an option.

 

 4.3      Definition of Mitigating Circumstances

Mitigating circumstances can include a long-term illness or injury requiring prolonged absence from attendance at lectures, the serious illness of an immediate family member requiring the customer undertaking a caring responsibility, force majeure, discontinuance of the course by the educational institution. Documentary evidence from the college must be provided and in the event that a medical condition existed supporting documentation from the doctor/specialist etc. may be required.

4.4       Progression in Education Course

Second Level Option
In certain limited circumstances BTEA can be approved where the customer proposes to undertake a course of study leading to a qualification at either QQI Levels 5 or 6 where the customer already holds qualification at the same level or lesser level.
In order for such an application to be recommended and subsequently approved, a Case Officer will consider their recommendation in terms of further professional/career development and the customer’s overall job prospects ensuring that the:

  • course of study at Level 5 or 6 is at second level only
  • previous educational award is deemed to be in an economic sector that is no longer relevant
  • proposed course of study is career orientated and consistent with future skills needs and/or local demand
  • maximum course duration of the course of study is 24 months
  • Customer worked for a period of at least three years and has paid PRSI contributions (156 cons).  This may include contributions from other EU countries.  Evidence of paid EU contributions must be submitted.
  • previous educational award was made 3 or more years prior to the commencement date of the new proposed course
  •  

Third Level Option
In general, BTEA should only be approved where the course of study leads to a higher qualification on the National Framework of Qualifications other than that already held by the customer (refer to Appendix 3)

 

 Level 7

Ordinary Degree

Level 8

Honours Degree

Level 8

Higher Diploma

Level 9

Professional Masters in Education (PME) = 2 years

 

Customers holding a qualification at tertiary education level (certificate, diploma, primary degree or postgraduate qualification) should not be approved for BTEA to pursue a course at a similar or lower qualification level. 
If a QQI level 8 degree is held, application to study for QQI level 8 Higher Diploma can be approved.
A customer who already holds a level 7 ordinary degree can only apply for the one year add-on honours degree course which may be in a different discipline. They are not eligible to receive BTEA for a new level 8 degree course.
It should also be noted that if the customer already has a Post Graduate they cannot be approved for another.

4.5       Repeat years

BTEA repeat customers must:

  • Be a full-time student i.e. cannot repeat on a part-time basis
  • Only receive approval on BTEA to repeat one academic year as a full-time student and only in limited circumstances.  (Refer to section 4.2)
  • Not be approved BTEA for repeat students registered as external students and/or examination only students 

A BTEA customer who fails and repeats an exam, which results in a break of their previously awarded BTEA payment and who satisfies all other eligible criteria for BTEA may be approved for BTEA in order to progress to the next year of their course of study
If the break in payment is for a period longer than the academic year, they should be treated as new entrants to the scheme for payment purposes.

4.6       Failure to complete or deferral of a course

A BTEA participant who fails to complete, or drops out of a course of study should not be approved for a BTEA payment to pursue a different course of study. A BTEA customer who defers a year of their course of study should not be reapproved for BTEA unless mitigating circumstances. (Refer to section 4.3)
However, if a Case Officer is satisfied that due to mitigating circumstances that it would be unreasonable to expect the customer to have continued the course of study they may be eligible to continue their course of study.
Customers who defer a year of a course of study are deemed to be new customers and are subject to the conditions on the date of reapplication.

4.7 Back to Education Allowance and Student Grant Scheme (SUSI)


BTEA customers (including those in receipt of Jobseekers Credits only) may be eligible for support to offset the cost of the student registration fee, including other fees payable to access courses, if the BTEA customer satisfies the eligibility criteria for both.  
However, customers approved for BTEA (or VTOS for those pursuing post leaving certificate courses) are not eligible for the student support grants operated by SUSI on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.
Further information on the Student Grant Scheme can be obtained from www.susi.ie  

5.1       BTEA age related payments from 2017/18 Jobseeker Customers

Age related payment rates were abolished with effect from 1st September 2017. As a result all BTEA customers will receive a weekly payment equivalent to the maximum standard personal rate of the qualifying payment (less any applicable means).  Refer to RSU circular 63/18 and also note appendix 1 of same circular on how to apply rates.

5.2       Increase payment in respect of qualified adult/child dependent

Increases for QA and Child dependents should be awarded in line with the primary payment.
If there is a change in circumstances which effect increases for Qualified Adult/child entitlements, a review of these allowances should be completed and the rate payable for these allowances adjusted accordingly.

5.3       Method of Payment

BTEA is paid on a weekly basis by Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) or by post draft (PDT).  Customers are required to supply details of their bank account/post office at time of application.

5.4       Duration of BTEA payment

Jobseekers only
BTEA approved in respect of Jobseekers (JA/JB only) is payable for the duration of the academic year only (or in the case of Jobseekers Benefit when the claim exhausts), providing entitlement continues to exist.  BTEA is not payable for the summer between academic years.  Where BTEA customers are unable to find employment during the summer period, they may be entitled to claim an unemployment payment (JA/JB) subject to satisfying the usual qualifying conditions for those payments.
All other Qualifying payments
BTEA customers other than jobseekers (JA/JB only) will retain their BTEA payment during the summer period provided they are progressing to the following academic year of their course of study or to another approved course of study under the BTEA scheme.  (RSU Circular 17/15 refers)

5.5       Cost of Education Allowance

From 1st September 2017 the Cost of Education allowance of €500 per academic year is payable to all BTEA customers with a qualified child payment on their claim subject to fulfilling all conditions on the primary scheme.

  • Where both the primary customer and the qualified adult are engaged with BTEA the maximum rate of payment of the Cost of Education Allowance in respect of their combined claims should be €500 per academic year.
  • There is no requirement to record an overpayment when a customer does not complete the academic year, providing the customer satisfied the qualifying criteria for the Cost of Education Allowance on the day the payment was awarded.
  • On receipt of a BTEA application with a child dependent the Deciding Officer should ensure that the Cost of Education allowance is paid to the customer by arrears.
  • Customers in receipt of Jobseekers Credits only are also entitled to this payment subject to fulfilling all conditions on the primary scheme.
  • Customers on Part time Education option (PTEO) are not entitled to the allowance (including Springboard courses and ICT Skills under PTEO)

5.6 BTEA tax exemption

The tax status and legislative changes of Social Welfare payments have been updated and are included in the 2018 Finance Act.  BTEA is categorised as a tax exempt payment, therefore, payment including increases for dependent adults or children and other allowances paid with the BTEA payment is fully exempt from income tax, PRSI and USC.

Assessment of Means and Work Placements

6.1       Assessment of means and working during the academic year


Where a BTEA customer qualifies on the basis of a qualifying payment after 1st January 2013, the means test applicable should be used in determining the rate of BTEA payment and in any subsequent review.
From 2016/17 all new BTEA customers or those who return to BTEA after a break and who engage in part-time work while in receipt of BTEA should be means assessed in accordance with the primary payment (see saver cases 6.3).
If there is a change in circumstances, other than the commencement of part-time work by the claimant, during the academic year, then a revised decision should be applied.  The onus is on the customer at all times to inform the Department of these changes otherwise  an overpayment may incur.  (Refer to Section 8)

With respect to Jobseekers (JA/JB), the condition of entitlement that a person must be unemployed for 4 days in any consecutive 7 days does not apply for the period of BTEA entitlement. 
 

6.2       Secondary benefits

Customers may continue to receive any secondary benefits (subject to means assessment) to which they would otherwise have an entitlement under the provisions of their qualifying payment and legislative arrangements applying to the specific benefits.  Secondary benefits may include:

  • Fuel Allowance – if you were in receipt of fuel allowance on your primary payment you may be entitled to retain this allowance subject to satisfying household means.
  • Rent allowance under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme or Differential rents – administered by the Local Authorities i.e. Housing Assistance Payment  (HAP) subject to rules of means assessment.
  • Medical cards administered by the Department of Health – queries should be directed to HSE PCRS, CRU Unit, 4th Floor, Finglas, Dublin 11 or telephone 1890 252 919 or email clientregistration@hse.ie
  • Travel (for distances over 3 miles) and meal allowances – administered by the Department of Education and Skills and paid by the ETBs.  Queries should be directed to the ETBs.

In relation to Fuel allowance, entitlement to Fuel cannot be established by participating on a BTEA scheme. Please refer to section 1.6.4 of National fuel Scheme guidelines. https://divisions/sites/DAO/Documents/Guidelines/National%20Fuel%20Scheme.doc

6.3       Saver Cases

JA BTEA customers who were initially approved in the 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16 academic years (“saver” cases, see table below) may engage in part-time employment after the course commences without affecting their rate of payment providing the work does not interfere with college attendance. Any additional income may affect entitlement to secondary benefits such as Rent and Fuel allowance payments to the household including their spouse/partner’s means tested DEASP payment.  

 

Table to assist with “saver” cases.

Date of commencement on BTEA

Means Assessment for JA

Prior to Jan 2013

No Means assessed

Jan 2013 – end 15/16 (May 2016)

Assess means on employment held at beginning of any academic year – no means on employment commenced after the first day of new academic year

From 16/17 (June 2016 onwards)

Assess means on all employment irrespective of date of commencement (only applies to new customers) – onus on customer to inform intreo centre of a change in earnings.

6.4       BTEA while undertaking unpaid work placement/thesis

In circumstances where BTEA customers have to, as an integral, compulsory, mandatory part of their course of study, undertake a period of work placement/experience or prepare a thesis/dissertation, BTEA can continue in payment for this period subject to the rules of the primary payment.  
This may also include a work placement abroad (refer to section 6.7). The customer must give written notification in advance and indicate this course content in the application.  Deciding Officer’s must require written evidence from the Registrars’ Office/Admissions Office or Student Records Office of the educational institution before confirming payment to cover these periods.  Confirmation should indicate clearly the start and completion date as this may affect the resumption of the BTEA claim.

6.5       Paid Work Placement

 

Where a BTEA customer receives payment for an integral/mandatory/compulsory work placement this should be assessed in accordance with rules of the primary payment (refer to 6.3 i.e. table with saver cases). This also includes any paid work placement abroad.
On completion of the work placement, the customer should contact their local Intreo Centre to resume their BTEA claim (subject to normal BTEA rules).

6.6       Travel and Subsistence

 

Travel and Subsistence allowances should not be means assessed as they are genuine expenses incurred due to the nature of the work. 

However, the Deciding Officer should ensure that the allowances received are actual travel and subsistence expenses and not a substitution for a customer’s salary while on work placement.  Supporting documentation should be provided for clarification.

 

6.7       BTEA and Erasmus (work abroad)

The Erasmus Programme is an EU exchange student programme that aims to provide foreign exchange options for students from within the European Union.
BTEA customers may be approved for payment if pursuing a year of their course of study under the EU Erasmus Programme.  Deciding Officers must require written evidence from the Registrars’ Office/Admissions Office or Student Records Office of the educational institution before confirming payment to cover this period.  Confirmation should be received in advance of travel abroad and to include a statement that the year abroad is an integral/mandatory/compulsory part of the course, the start and end date of the course and the details of the college abroad, where the study will be conducted and contact details of the customer while studying abroad. If the customer receives any income during this period, it should be assessed as means in line with the guidelines of the primary payment.

Erasmus and Disability Allowance customers
Customers who were in receipt of a Disability Allowance (DA) payment within 30 days prior to the commencement of their Erasmus participation, may access BTEA to participate in the one year EU Erasmus programme as part of their studies
Disability Allowance customers who lost their entitlement to DA because of participation in an Erasmus year of study, may access the BTEA scheme from the date of  commencement of their Erasmus participation, where SUSI is not in payment.  A customer may avail of the Cost of Education allowance retrospectively (i.e. where they have a child) if the BTEA claim is made prior to the 30th of November in the academic year.  The customer must satisfy all the other eligibility rules with the exception of the late claims provision and not commencing first year of the course.

6.8       Assessment of Bursaries and Scholarships

 

Any payments received under the Department of Education and Skills 1916 Bursary Fund will be disregarded in the assessment of means for the purposes of Jobseeker’s Allowance, Farm/Fish Assist, and One-Parent Family Payment subject to a maximum of €7000 per person per annum for social welfare means testing purposes. 
In January 2018, Uversity launched its Higher Education Scholarships for Adult Learners. (Uversity is a Registered Charity whose main objective is “the advancement of education by the making of grants (by way of scholarships, bursaries or otherwise) to persons engaged in academic or other study or research”)

This scholarship is exempt from a means test for BTEA purposes subject to a maximum of €7000 per person per annum.
Under the Department of Education and Skills guidelines, scholarships will also not be included in the means assessment for recipients of the Student Grant scheme (SUSI), subject to a maximum disregard of €7000 per annum.
Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) (Amendment) (No. 5) (Assessment of Means) Regulations 2018 (S.I. No. 333 of 2018).  RSU circular 60/18 also refers.
All other bursaries or scholarships should be considered as means and the entitlement to BTEA assessed based on the means rules attaching to the qualifying payment.

Applications, Documentation and Decision Procedures

7.1       Proof of registration and applications

Proof of registration
The following are applicable for all BTEA customers:

  • Written confirmation from the relevant institute of education that the customer has registered as a full-time day student must be provided.
  • This registration letter must contain details of the course of study as outlined in the BTEA application (BTE1), start date and finish date of the course for the current academic year.
  • This letter may also be emailed directly from the Registrar’s office to the Intreo centre.
  • This document/email is only acceptable from the Registrars, Admissions office or Student Records Office.
  • Payment will not issue until the customer provides this written confirmation either for new claims or resumptions
  • Failure to supply relevant documentation within 30 days will result in the application being deemed withdrawn.

Applications
BTEA customers have until 30th November to supply the required documentation to the Intreo Centre. If evidence of registration is not supplied by this date, payment of BTEA should be suspended immediately.
All applications must be submitted on an official BTEA application form (BTE1) available on the Department’s website (www.welfare.ie/en/pdf/bte1.pdf) or in paper version at Intreo Centres.  Officers should assist customers to make applications at the earliest opportunity with final decisions on eligibility and payment rates reserved until immediately prior to commencement of the course of study when confirmation is available. 
The BTEA application process:

  • Completion in full and submission of the BTEA application form (BTE1) or resumption of study form plus supporting documentation (confirmation of application to educational institution/CAO/ETB-FTE containing a statement of course choices or equivalent);
    • CAO application receipt or equivalent from an educational institution detailing the proposed course of study and name of educational institution
    • If available, confirmation of commencement and finishing date of the course in the current academic year

 

  • Where required, an assessment by Case Officer of application and suitability of proposed course of study to jobseeker’s career development i.e. the course of study is consistent with the requirements set out in these rules and guidelines
  • Where required, recommendation by the Case Officer based on final course offer from educational institution (admissions office/registrars confirmation)
  • Completion of eligibility assessment by Deciding Officer and issue of provisional award letter pending receipt of registration letter from educational institution;
  • On receipt of registration letter containing all relevant information, issue of full award letter and commencement of BTEA payment
  • ISTS and TLA (Office) systems should be updated in addition to any file notes

Intreo Centres should advertise the opportunities afforded by BTEA by advising customers and by displaying posters and other materials advertising the scheme.

7.2       Timing of Applications

All BTEA customers should be encouraged to submit the BTE1 application form once they have applied for a course of study and have received notification from the educational institution/CAO that an application has been received (generally available from March each year).  Case Officers and Deciding Officers may make preliminary determination of suitability and eligibility pending final offer of a course of study by an educational institution (generally made from mid-August to mid-September each year).
All applications must be made in advance to enable scheduling of assessment processes and interviews with customers, if deemed necessary and the establishment of eligibility and provisional award of payment by the Deciding Officer.
To facilitate late placement offers, applications may be received up to but no later than 30 days of the commencement of the course of study.

7.3       Late Applications

Applications received more than 30 days after commencement of a course of study are deemed to be late applications and therefore should not be considered for the scheme.

7.4       Decisions

Role of the DEASP Case Officer and Deciding Officer
As part of their functions to support customers, Case Officers will primarily be involved in determining suitability of the course of study being proposed for the Jobseeker to ensure it is in line with the activation needs of the customer, including alignment with the jobseeker’s Personal Progression Plan (PPP).  The Case Officer should provide direction insofar as this relates to ensuring that the course of study is in an area/sector of the economy where there are identified skill needs and job opportunities.
BTEA eligibility should be assessed primarily by the Deciding Officer (DO) and in all cases, only the DO can approve the customer for a BTEA payment, following receipt of a positive recommendation from the Case Officer and a final check on consistency with the eligibility criteria.   The DO should issue a provisional award letter and final award letter.  Eligibility for the scheme can only be determined immediately prior to the commencement of the course.  Final approval letters should only issue when all conditionality of the BTEA scheme are met in full and following verification of payment requirements.  A template letter is available on the Working Age Schemes Policy site on Stór. A copy of this letter should be scanned to the customer’s claim on BOMi4 and/or kept on the customer’s file.

 

7.5       Refusals

In the event that a Case Officer is unable to make a positive recommendation or the DO establishes that the conditions of entitlement are not satisfied, notification must issue to the customer clearly stating the specific grounds for refusal of BTEA. The customer must be advised of their right to have the decision communicated, re-examined and reviewed within 21 days of the issue of the letter of refusal and the manner in which a request for a re-examination or review can be made.

7.6       Re-examination/review of decision to refuse

 

A customer who is not satisfied with a recommendation of a Case Officer and/or a decision of a Deciding Officer may request in writing to have their application and assessment re-examined and reviewed. The request must state clearly the basis of the review being requested and enclose any new evidence or any other information to address the reasons for refusal communicated by the Department.
As BTEA is an administrative scheme, a re-examination and review must be conducted by an officer of the Department with relevant knowledge of the operation of BTEA and not involved in the previous recommendation/decision or by a higher officer of the relevant Intreo Centre. Divisions/Intreo Centres should put in place standard arrangements for dealing with re-examination and reviews of BTEA recommendations and award decisions. As this is an administrative scheme decisions cannot be appealed to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.
The reviewing Officer should ensure the original decision and any new evidence supplied is examined taking these rules and guidelines into consideration in their entirety.  The outcome of this re-examination and review should be clearly documented and communicated to the customer outlining in detail why the application has been awarded or refused and noting that all new evidence has been taken into consideration in coming to a final decision.
(If BTEA is refused based on the recommendation of the Case Officer, the review should be taken by another Case Officer or Area Manager in the Division attached to the relevant office.)

7.7       ISTS/TLA systems

Staff should ensure that all SLO/TLO/OSLO/OTLO/ISLO/ITLO applications received and processed are recorded/input on the TLA system (available on OFFICE system).


SLO and TLO

Second Level Option and Third Level Option

OSLO and OTLO

Second  and Third Level Options for OPF claims

ISLO and ITLO

Second and Third Level options for Illness Benefit claims

Data on the operation of BTEA is essential to the management of the scheme and therefore all applications should be recorded as:

  • Received
  • Pending
  • Awarded
  • Refused

A training manual for this system and relevant refusal and analysis codes are available at https://divisions/sites/ess/Pages/Default.aspx

 

7.8       Front Office Back Office (FOBO) BTEA Decisions

A new initiative introduced to Intreo Centres and Branch Offices.  It involves the:

  • Separation of Front and Back Office responsibilities
  • Front Office operates customer facing services
    • Reception
    • New Claims
    • Queries/Maintenance requests
  • Decisions referred to Back Office
    • Work moved to available back office resources regardless of location
    • Organised into three separate, but overlapping teams:
      • Front Office team
      • Control team
      • Activation Support team
    • Not all Intreo Centres will have a co-located Back Office. 

 

For all BTEA related queries for FOBO claims please refer to the following for assistance:
Email: FOBO.Helpdesk@welfare.ie

Team site: https://team/sites/FOBO/SitePages/Home.aspx
Telephone: 01-7043677 Ext: 43677

Policy Matters are cared for by the Regional Support Unit
https://divisions/sites/RDO/Pages/home-page.aspx
Email: Sect_RSU4@welfare.ie

8.1       Control requirements

Officers should refer to the Department’s anti-fraud strategy which requires that effective divisional and local controls are implemented to protect the expenditure of public funds, prevent fraudulent activity/claims and minimise errors in the processing and approval of applications for BTEA.  Actions relating to control of BTEA must be aligned with the aims to reduce fraud and abuse, minimise risks to public funds and eliminate incorrect payments.
Divisions must ensure that systematic verification processes, including reviews, are implemented during the payment cycle and where relevant, termination of BTEA payment at academic year end. Additionally, divisions should provide for targeted inspections of BTEA customers to ensure ongoing compliance. 

8.2       Responsibilities of the Divisions/Intreo Centres

In general, at least 5% of BTEA payments should be examined annually.  Measures undertaken at divisional level will be supported by control actions undertaken by BTEA central policy unit. Failure by customers to comply with the rules and conditions of the scheme should result in termination of the BTEA payment and, where identified, the raising of an overpayment or consideration of a prosecution where fraudulent conduct is suspected.  The actions of divisional staff is essential in ensuring that such situations do not arise, particularly in respect of providing information and guidance to customers on the ongoing need to advise the Department of any changes that might impact on eligibility to the BTEA scheme. 
Primary responsibility for control and monitoring rests with the Deciding Officer and the Case Officer managing the application. 

8.3       Finish dates and end of academic year processes

Forms SLO8/TLO8/SLO8a/TLO8a)UP6(BTEA) will issue centrally to BTEA customers on behalf of Intreo Centres in April annually to request the supply of the course finish dates for the current academic year (normally date of last exam) and to determine a customer’s intentions for the future academic year.  On return of these forms, Intreo Centres should ensure that actions set out in both the FOBO (refer to section 7.8) and TLA training manuals are implemented.  The TLA training manual is available on the Working Age Schemes Policy site under A to Z on Stór or https://divisions/sites/ess/Pages/Default.aspx
In the absence of information or failure to notify the Department of future intentions by the return date, Intreo Centres should cease payment to avoid overpayments arising.

8.4       Reviews and Recovery of overpayments

Where BTEA customers are paid amounts to which they are not entitled, arrangements for debt recovery must be pursued.  A review may also be initiated on receipt of notification of any change in circumstances which may affect entitlement or the appropriate rate of payment.  Where a customer has received BTEA payments from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, which they were not entitled to receive, the customer shall be liable to repay on demand a sum not exceeding the amount of the money received.  
.

8.5       GDPR/Freedom of Information

Staff are required to ensure that all information and personal data received in respect of BTEA, (to include application, monitoring and control processes) are treated in a confidential and secure manner. Case Officers and Deciding Officers should note that formal arrangements are in place for the exchange of information with other Government Departments / Agencies in accordance with the law. Explanations and terms used in this form are intended as a guide only and are not a legal interpretation

Appendix 1

Information Leaflet (SW70) and application form (BTE1) are available from:

  • www.welfare.ie
  • Nationwide network of Social Welfare Intreo Offices/Branch Offices
  • Working Age Schemes Policy, Back to Education Section, Shannon Lodge, Carrick on Shannon, Co Leitrim
  • Social Welfare Services Office, College Road, Sligo
  • Social Welfare Services Office, Government Buildings, Ballinalee Road, Longford
  • Information Service, Aras Mhic Dhiarmada, Store Street, Dublin 1.

Completed application form (BTE1) should be returned to:

  • Persons in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance, Jobseekers Benefit, Jobseekers Credits Only, Farm/Fish Assist, One Parent Family Payment or Jobseekers transitional Payment (paid by your local Social Welfare Intreo Office) must return the completed application form (BTE1) to the relevant Social Welfare Intreo Office.
  • Persons in receipt of Deserted Wife's Allowance, Deserted Wife's Benefit, Widow's/Widower's Non-Contributory Pension, Widow's/Widower's Contributory Pension, Prisoners Wife's Allowance or Blind Pension must return the completed application form (BTE1)) to the Social Welfare Services Office, College Road, Sligo.
  • Persons in receipt of Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension, Incapacity Supplement or Carer's Allowance must return the completed application form (BTE1) to Social Welfare Services Office, Government Buildings, Ballinalee Road, Longford.
  • Persons in receipt of Illness Benefit must return the completed application form (BTE1) to Illness Benefit Section, Arás Mhic Dhiarmada, Store St., Dublin 1.  

 

Appendix 2

Details of Relevant changes to Third Level Allowance/Second Level Allowance & Back to Education Allowance since 1990:

1990

Third Level Allowance (TLA) first introduced. Applied to Jobseekers Allowance and Jobseekers Benefit only. Age criteria was 23 and qualifying period was 15 months

1993:

Extended to recipients of One Parent Family Payments Qualifying period reduced to 12 months.

1995:

Age criteria reduced to 21 years of age Qualifying period reduced to 6 months. 
TLA extended to Postgraduate qualifications (age criteria 24) provided applicant was on LR for at least 6 months after completing primary degree

1996:

TLA established as a separate stand-alone scheme. TLA payable at maximum personal rate. Book Allowance (€127.00) introduced. Payment of TLA during summer vacation period. Requirement to be for Postgraduate Option, on LR for 6 months after completing primary degree abolished

1997:

Second Level Allowance (SLA) established as a stand-alone scheme

1998:

Both the Second Level Allowance (SLA) and the Third Level Allowance (TLA) were merged into a unified Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) Scheme.
Disability Allowance and Blind Pension became relevant qualifying payments for BTEA purposes.
Annual Book Allowance was re-titled Cost of Education Allowance and increased to €190.00

1999

Annual Cost of Education Allowance increased to €254.00

2000

Invalidity Pension, Incapacity Supplement and Carer's Allowance became relevant payments for BTEA purposes.
The Qualified Adult of a BTEA eligible person could "take over" the relevant Social Welfare payment in order to access the BTEA scheme. This arrangement is known as "Spousal Swap".
Periods spent on Back to Work Allowance, FAS Job Initiative and Job Start could count towards qualifying period for BTEA

2001:

Early School Leavers (18-20 year olds) qualified for BTEA provided out of formal education1 for at least 2 years.
People with disabilities who accessed Community Employment Schemes through the National Disability Authority (NDA) became eligible for BTEA without having to establish a Social Welfare entitlement

2002:

Persons in receipt of Deserted Wife's Allowance/Benefit Widows Contributory/Non Contributory Pension and Prisoners Wife's Allowance without dependent children became eligible for BTEA.
BTEA was extended to persons in receipt of Illness Benefit for 3 years or more. Qualified Adult of BTEA eligible persons became eligible to access scheme in their own right (replaced "Spousal Swap")

2003

Summer payment to BTEA participants previously on Jobseekers Allowance and Jobseekers Benefit discontinued.
Postgraduate option of BTEA scheme restricted to Higher Diplomas (H.Dip.) or Postgraduate Diplomas in Education (Primary School Teaching)

2004

Qualifying period for TLO increased from 6 to 15 months

2005

Qualifying period for TLO reduced from 15 to 12 months
JA and JB recipients qualify for TLO at 9 months if participating in NEAP process.
Annual Cost of Education Allowance increased to €400.00

2006

Periods spent on SWA or Direct Provision from HSE to count towards qualifying period provided entitlement to relevant Social Welfare payment is established prior to commencing an approved course of study

2007

Qualifying period for Illness Benefit reduced to 2 years.
Persons awarded Statutory Redundancy may access scheme provided entitlement to a relevant Social Welfare payment is established prior to commencing an approved course of study. 1/9/2007

2008:

Annual Cost of Education Allowance increases to €500.00. Cost of Education Allowance extended to "credit only" cases

2009

Reduction of the qualifying period for Second level courses from 6 months (156 days) to 3 Months (78 days) for all qualifying payments. (1/5/2009).
Earlier access to Third level Option of the BTEA on the recommendation of the Job Facilitator. (Jobseekers claims only). (1/5/2009)

2010

Qualifying period for receipt of TLO courses reduced to 9 months( 234 days ) for all payments (July 2010) except Illness Benefit. (2 year qualifying period for Illness Benefit cases).
Relaxation of the condition of first year of course of study (July 2010).
BTEA recipients no longer eligible for Student Support Maintenance Grants (maintenance element only) September 2010

2011

BTEA recipients allowed to repeat only 1 year of their course of study (21 June 2011)

2012

Annual Cost of Education reduced from €500 to €300.
BTEA and Half rate JB, the half rate payment ceased for new applicants from 02 February 2012.

2013

The €300 cost of Education Allowance was abolished for new and existing BTEA participants form January 1st, 2013. This applies to all courses commencing after this date.

The practice of uprating over 25 year olds on all DSP payments to the maximum weekly rate is discontinued for new entrants only from 1 January 2013 and the uprating of under 25s on age related Jobseeker payments to a new reduced maximum rate of €160 applies to new entrants only from 1st Jan 2013. Under 25 year olds with means will have their means applied to the new €160 rate. Those currently engaged with BTEA and who are progressing, or who are mid-course (for example will finish year one in May 2013 and resume their studies in September 2013), will not be affected by the budget 2013 changes relating to ‘uprating’. This includes people progressing from SLO to TLO.

Qualified Adults are no longer entitled to the full personal rate of the qualifying DSP payment.

A person participating on DSP Work programmes ( CE, Tús, RSS etc.) , Work Placement programmes (JobBridge etc.),  Back to Work schemes , VTOS or FAS schemes must establish an entitlement to a qualifying DSP payment in order to qualify for BTEA at the applicable rate.

From 4 July 2013, former One Family Parent customers affected by age related changes to OFP in full-time education who did not opt for BTEA at the start of the course may be admitted to BTEA ‘mid-course’ where OFP is being withdrawn due to the age of the youngest child.

2014

All new BTEA (Jobseeker) applications from June 2014 will require Case Officer recommendation.
Applicants wishing to pursue the new Professional Masters of Education (L9) will be able to avail of the BTEA if they have 312 days (12 months) on a qualifying payment and satisfy all other criteria. Illness Benefit customers require 2 years or more to qualify.
BTEA customers who already hold a Fetac Level 5 or Fetac Level 6 qualification may be allowed to pursue a course of study at either of these levels in limited circumstances and will require Case officer approval.

2015

Jobseekers benefit participants – payment ceases when benefit exhausts and all part-time work assessed in accordance with the primary payment.   If BTEA customer qualifies for Jobseekers allowance, BTEA can continue.

A Jobseeker / OFP/JST BTEA customer must re-establish entitlement to their primary payment at the recommencement date of the next year or the commencement of a further year of education under the scheme.

Qualified Adults of BTEA qualifying payments must establish an entitlement to a BTEA qualifying payment in their own right in order to qualify for BTEA.

2016

All part-time work assessed in accordance with the primary payment
Study within Ireland and Northern Ireland permitted. (Exceptions apply).
Former DA customer who was in receipt of a Disability allowance payment within 30 days prior to the commencement of their course, may access BTEA to participate in the one year EU Erasmus programme as part of their studies subject to not being in receipt of SUSI maintenance grant.

2017

Cost of Education Allowance introduced for customers with dependent children.
Abolishing of age related payments for all customers.
SLO customers no longer to commence study in UK (excluding Northern Ireland)
Department of Education and Skills 1916 Bursary Scheme exempt from means assessment.

2018

Uversity Registered Charity launched its Higher Education Scholarships for Adult Learners  from January 2018 which is exempt from means assessment up to €7000 p.a.

2019

Introduction of reduction in age for One Parent Family Payment customers from April 2019

Appendix 3

 

 

Appendix 4

Qualifying payments and study option eligibility criteria combined for quick reference/print out


JOBSEEKER
Qualifying Payments

Second
Level Option (SLO)

Third
Level Option(TLO)

Post Graduate Option

 

 

  • Jobseekers Allowance

(means-tested)

  • Farm and Fish Assist

(means-tested)

  • Jobseekers Benefit

 

  • Jobseekers Benefit Credits ONLY* – not paid by the Department

* Customer may satisfy the conditions for Jobseekers Benefit on the commencement of a new Relevant Tax year (RTL – Jan 2019) formerly known as the Governing Contribution Year (GCY)

 

  • Aged at least 21 years
  • And have 3 months (78 days) in receipt of DEASP payment

 

  • And 2 years out of formal education1 if aged between 18 and 20.

 

  • Aged at least 21 years

 

  • And have 9 months (234 days) in receipt of DEASP payment
  • And 2 years out of formal education1 if aged between 18 and 20

 

 

  • Aged at least 24 years

 

  • And have 9 months (234 days) for Higher Diploma/Postgraduate option OR
  • 12 months (312 days) in receipt of DEASP payment

 for the Professional Masters in Education

 

ONE PARENT FAMILY Qualifying Payments

Second Level Option (SLO)

Third Level Option (TLO)

Post Graduate Option

 

 

  • One Parent Family Payment (means-tested) * age related change introduced from April 2019

 

  • Aged at least 18 years
  • And have 3 months (78 days) in receipt of DEASP payment

 

 

  • Aged at least 18 years

 

  • And have 9 months (234 days) in receipt of DEASP payment

 

  • Aged at least 24 years

 

  • And have 9 months (234 days) for Higher Diploma/Postgraduate option OR

 

  • 12 months (312 days) in receipt of DEASP payment

for the Professional Masters in Education

 

 

  • Jobseekers Transition payment (means-tested)
  • Deserted Wife’s Benefit/Allce (means-tested)

 

  • Widows/Widower’s Con Pension
  • Widows/Widower’s Non-Con. Pension (means-tested)

 

  • Prisoner’s Wife’s Allowance (means-tested)

 

  • Aged at least 21 years
  • And have 3 months (78 days) in receipt of DEASP payment

 

 

 

  • Aged at least 21 years
  • And have 9 months (234 days) in receipt of DEASP payment

 

 

  • Aged at least 24 years
  • And have 9 months (234 days) for Higher Diploma/Postgraduate option OR

 

  • 12 months (312 days) in receipt of DEASP payment

for the Professional Masters in Education

 

DISABILITY & CARING
Qualifying Payments

Second
Level Option (SLO)

Third
Level Option (TLO)

Post Graduate Option

 

  • Carers Allowance (means-tested) – note Caree must be transferred to another recipient
  • Disability Allowance (means-tested)

 

  • Incapacity Supplement (means-tested based on a Life Disablement)
  • Blind Pension

        (means-tested)

  • Invalidity Pension

 

  • Illness Benefit/Credits (separate conditions apply refer to sect 3.5)

 

  • Aged at least 18 years

 

  • And have 3 months (78 days) in receipt of DEASP payment

 

 

  • Aged at least 18 years

 

  • And have 9 months (234 days) in receipt of DEASP payment

 

 

 

  • Aged at least 24 years

 

  • And have 9 months (234 days) for Higher Diploma/Postgraduate option OR

 

  • 12 months (312 days) in receipt of DEASP payment

for the Professional Masters in Education

Last modified:07/08/2019
 

 Application Forms

 
 

 Downloads