Know Your Rights: The Higher Education Access Route (HEAR)

I attend a DEIS school and want to go to university. My family are not well off.  Is there anything to help me go to college?

The Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) helps school-leavers who may not traditionally go on to third-level education access it. Under the HEAR scheme, third-level places are allocated to school-leavers on a reduced points basis.  For example, a HEAR student with 356 points might get a place on a course that usually requires 366 points.

Participating colleges also provide extra supports for HEAR students.

When you apply to the Central Applications Office (CAO) for a college place, you must indicate on your CAO application that you wish to be considered for HEAR. To qualify for HEAR, you must meet certain indicators or criteria related to your financial, social and cultural circumstances. For example, your family income must be below a certain limit for your family size. Other factors are taken into account such as having a medical card, attending a school in the DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) programme and living in a disadvantaged area.

You must apply to the CAO by 1 February 2021 and complete your HEAR application by 1 March 2021. Copies of your supporting documents must reach the CAO by 15 March 2021. Late applications are not accepted.

You should start preparing your HEAR application as soon as possible. You will need to gather supporting documents, such as information from the Revenue Commissioners, a statement of income from the Department of Social Protection and whatever other documents are required in your case.

You can get more information in the HEAR 2021 handbook (pdf) and Your school can also provide information and support.  You can get more information about HEAR on

During the COVID-19 pandemic, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo. You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
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