The start of the school year can be a worrying and financially stressful time for many parents. Every year the costs of sending your loved ones to school seem to increase.

For those with little money, help is on hand through a means-tested once-off government payment aimed at helping families with the costs associated with children returning to school in the autumn.

You (the parent or guardian) must be getting certain social welfare payments or taking part in training, employment or adult education schemes and your child/ren must be aged: 

  • between 4 and 17 on or before 30 September of the year you apply or aged 
  • between 18 and 22 on or before 30 September if returning to second-level education.

The allowance paid for each eligible child:

  • aged 4-11 on or before 30 September 2019 is €150.00. 
  • aged 12-22 on or before 30 September 2019 is €275.00. 

Children aged between 18 and 22 years must be returning to full-time second-level education in a recognised school or college in the autumn of 2019.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection expects some 150,000 payments for Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance to be made this summer.

Most payments will happen automatically and will have been paid the week commencing 8th July. Notifications would have been issued to these families during the month of June. For those who have not received notification of an automated payment, you will still need to submit an application, even if you received the payment last year.

From 24th June 2019, you could have applied for Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance online on  To apply online you must have a Public Services Card and a verified MyGovID account. If you do not have a Public Services Card, you can make an appointment to get one at

Alternatively, you can submit an application form and send it:

  •  in Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection offices,
  •  by texting "form BTSCFA" followed by your name and address to 51909, or
  •  by downloading the form from this web page. 

Completed application forms - by the closing date of Monday, 30th September 2019 - should be returned to:

Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance section,
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection,
Social Welfare Services Office,
College Road,
Sligo, F91 T384 

Opening Hours: Phone line: 9.00am - 5.00pm, Monday to Friday.
Tel:(071) 919  3318  (If calling from outside the Republic of Ireland please call +353 71 919 3318) 

Locall:1890  66 22 44 (Note: the rates charged for using 1890 (Lo-call) numbers may vary. Calls made from mobile phones may be charged at significantly higher rates) Email:

It's still not too late to apply for this allowance. Also remember St Vincent's de Paul, Barnardos and the Simon Community are charities just to name three who will help out cash strapped families at this time of year. Never be embarrassed and enjoy the new school year.  

For more financial information click on John Lowe's profile above or on his website.