Disadvantaged Access - HEAR

Video: How to apply to HEAR

What is HEAR?     

The HEAR scheme is an admissions route into college for school leavers who, for social, financial or cultural reasons, are under-represented in third level education. Colleges participating in the scheme set aside a quota of places with reduced points and make these available to eligible students. HEAR is not a maintenance grant. 

The scheme is available for entry to 23 participating colleges and universities as follows:

Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) click here
Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) click here
TU Dublin - City Campus click here
Dublin City University (DCU) click here
Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design, Technology (IADT) click here
Galway Mayo Institute of Technology   click here
TU Dublin - Blanchardstown click here
Institute of Technology Sligo click here
TU Dublin - Tallaght click here
Institute of Technology Tralee  click here
Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) click here
Marino Institute of Education click here
Mary Immaculate College Limerick click here
Maynooth University click here
National College of Ireland (NCI) click here
NUI Galway click here
Pontifical University Maynooth click here
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) click here
St. Angela's College Sligo click here
Trinity Collge Dublin (TCD) click here
University College Cork (UCC) click here
University College Dublin (UCD) click here
University of Limerick (UL) click here

Who can apply to HEAR?

HEAR is for school leavers under the age of 23 as of the 1st of January of the year of application who are resident in the Republic of Ireland. HEAR applicants must meet a range of financial, social and cultural indicators to be considered for a reduced points place and extra college support.

Requirements for HEAR

HEAR applicants are assessed under six headings or indicators:

1. Income: Is your household income on or below the HEAR income threshold in the year prior to application?

2. Medical/GP Visit Card: Does your family have a Medical card or a GP Visit card?

3. Social welfare: Has your family received a means-tested social welfare payment from the DSP in the year before your application?

4. Socio-economic Group: Do you belong to a group that is under-represented in Higher Education?

5. DEIS: Does your child attend a DEIS school? 

6. Area: Do you live in an area with high unemployment, poverty and limited community facilities?

To be eligible under the HEAR scheme, you must meet Indicator 1 above plus a specific combination of 2 other indicators. Applicants must also meet the minimum entry requirements to the colleges of their choice.

How do I apply for HEAR?

Applicants applying for HEAR must: 

  • Be under the age of 23 as of 1 January 2019.
  • Apply online to CAO by 17:15 on 1 February 2019. (CAO applications for September 2019 entry opened on 5 November 2018 at 12 noon.)
  • No later than 17:15 on 1 March 2019, indicate in your CAO application that you wish to be considered for the HEAR scheme and fully and correctly complete all elements of the online HEAR form. Once you have completed the HEAR application form, a checklist will appear on screen telling you which documents you need to supply.
  • Post your supporting documents to arrive in CAO no later than 17:15 on 1 April. 

Click here for more detailed information on HEAR.

NOTE: Eligible students can apply for both HEAR and DARE. Those eligible for both schemes will be prioritised under new critieria now in place. 


HEAR Application Timetable

Note: The following table offers a general guideline to the HEAR application process; the dates listed are taken from the general CAO and DARE application timetables and may change from year to year. See the CAO's Important Dates for the most up-to-date deadlines.

From November

Review the HEAR Handbook with your parent(s)/guardian(s).

Make a CAO application at

Fill in the online HEAR Application at

Gather your supporting documents.

Remember, they can take several weeks to issue.

By 1 February

Apply to the CAO by 17.15pm on 1 February at

By 1 March

Complete all elements of the online HEAR Application Form by 17:15 on 1 March.

Gather all supporting documents relevant to your application.

By 1 April

Submit copies of supporting documents to CAO, Tower House, Eglinton Street Galway by 17:15 on 1 April. Make sure your copies are clear and can be easily read. Please number each page and write your CAO application number and the date on the front of each page. Faxed/ emailed documents are not accepted.

Keep the original of all documents and obtain a certificate of posting from An Post every time you post supporting documents to CAO.

For confirmation that the documents you posted arrived safely in CAO, enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard with details of the documents you have submitted.


HEAR Application Assessment. 

Late June

Applicants notified of outcome of HEAR Application.

End June /Early July

HEAR Review and Appeals Application.


Leaving Certificate Exam Results

successful HEAR Applicants notified by letter

Accept CAO offer

Accept HEAR offer of extra college supports

Late August /Early September

Attend mandatory HEAR orientation programme.
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