Help with the cost of your child's education
Whether your child is going to school, college or university, help is available with the costs of their education.
Funded pre-school education
Funded pre-school education is available in nursery schools, primary schools with nursery classes and some voluntary and private playgroups and day nurseries.
It is designed for children in the year immediately before they enter Primary 1. For September 2012, that means children who reach their 3rd birthday on or before 1 July 2012.
Free places are available for over 90 per cent of children in their immediate pre-school year. Most places are available for at least 2½ hours per day, 5 days per week for at least 38 weeks during the period September to June.
Information about pre-school education and free places in your area is available from your local education and library board.
Help with school costs
All children in Northern Ireland between the ages of four and 16 are entitled to a free place at school. Depending on your circumstances, extra help might be available for with the costs of school meals, uniform or transport.
Free school lunches and milk
If you receive income support, income-based Jobseekers Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or certain other benefits, your child could be entitled to free school meals. To find out more follow the link below.
Help with uniform costs
Families who are on benefits or on low income could be entitled to clothing grants from their local education and library board to assist with the cost of school clothing. To find out more follow the link below.
Assistance with school transport
If the nearest suitable school for your child lies beyond a set distance, your local education and library board may provide assistance with transport. To find out more follow the link below.
Help with sixth form and further education costs
If your child wishes to stay on in school, college or training after GCSEs, they could be eligible for Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). EMA is a weekly payment of up to £30 a week depending on household income, which is paid directly into your child's bank account.
If you claim benefits, these will not be affected by any EMA payments. Follow the link below to learn more about EMA and find out if your child is eligible.
Help with other costs from 16 to 19
Other types of financial help for young students include assistance with transport costs, child care costs and help with buying books or other learning-related material.
Click on the link below to find out about all the help available for those staying in education after 16.
Claiming benefits for over 16s in full time education
If your child is aged between 16 and 19 and is still in full time education, or on a work-based employment programme, then you can still claim Child Benefit, Child Tax Credits, and any other benefits for dependants you may receive.
If your child's course continues after they reach 19, you can continue to get Child Benefit and Child Tax Credits. But once they complete their course or they reach 20, you will stop receiving these and any other dependants' benefits.
Help with university and higher education costs
Help for students in university or higher education include student loans, grants and bursaries.
To find out more about student finance, click on the link below.
The role of parents, spouses and partners
If you are the parent, spouse or partner (sometimes referred to as 'sponsor') of a student, you may be expected to make a contribution toward their costs while they are at university or college.
Click on the link below to find out what role you have to play when your son or daughter goes into higher education