Know your rights: CAO late application

The closing date for applying to college was 1 February. Can I still apply?

You apply for almost all full-time undergraduate courses through the Central Applications Office (CAO). This includes, for example, university and institutes of technology undergraduate courses such as Higher Certificates at Level 6 and degrees at Levels 7 and 8.

The closing date for 2021 CAO applications was 1 February 2021. However, late applications are allowed up to 5.15pm on 1 May 2021.

There is a fee to apply for courses through the CAO and late applications pay an increased fee. Late online applications cost €60.

Regardless of when you applied, you can access your application to change the courses you picked or the order of courses. This Change of Mind facility is free. It opens on 5 May and closes on 1 July 2021 at 5:15pm.

If you want to be assessed as a mature applicant, or if you want to be considered for the HEAR and/or DARE schemes, most colleges require you to have applied to the CAO by 1 February 2021. You must submit your completed application for DARE and/or HEAR by 1 March 2021 and submit all your supporting documents by 15 March 2021.

There are also some restricted courses which you cannot apply for after 1 February 2021. 

The CAO’s handbook lists all the courses on offer and gives information on how to apply.

Decisions on offers of places are normally made in August and September, after the results of the Leaving Certificate have come out. A detailed schedule of the offer rounds is in the CAO handbook.

It is important to note that there is no central applications body for Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses. Students must apply directly to the individual colleges. You should check the closing date for PLC courses with the college where the PLC course is taking place.

During COVID-19, 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:

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