Free Fees Initiative (Full Time Undergraduate only)

Please note that to be eligible for the Free Fees scheme students must first qualify for the EU fee rate. See here for more on the EU fee rate.

Fee status and the Free Fees Initiative

Under the terms of the Free Fees Initiative, the Irish Exchequer will pay tuition fees to the University on behalf of students registered for the first time on qualifying, full-time, undergraduate degree programmes.Such programmes must be of a minimum duration of 2 years.

Part-time programmes are not covered under the Free Fees Initiative.

Free Fees:
Students are generally automatically assessed for “free” fees for undergraduate programmes. However if you are not a current school leaver or have – for example - a non-EU place of birth but have EU nationality you may need to provide us with additional documentation (please read this page carefully for the criteria for “free fees” and the documentation that you might need to provide).

Eligible UK students who enroll for eligible courses for the current 2019/20 academic year in a third level college recognised for the purposes of free fees and student grant purposes, will be eligible to avail of the Department’s Free Fees and Student Grant schemes

How it works
This flow chart provides a graphical overview of how we assess eligibility for “free” fees.

If you wish to have your eligibility for the ‘Free Fees’ initiative assessed then your supporting documentation must be accompanied by a signed confirmation. If you have previously attended, or were accepted to but did not attend, a 3rd level institution and wish to have your eligibility for the 'Free Fees' initiative assessed, please complete the HEA Free Fees Initiative – Fee Declaration form for each institution in question and return as directed (along with any other documentation that you might need to provide). If you have attended third level education outside of the Republic of Ireland, or cannot complete the Fee Declaration form, then you must provide a letter from the relevant institution stating your dates of attendance.

EU Fees:
If you are a non-EU student and wish to be assessed for “EU” fees please see our EU Fee Assessment website for details and forward on appropriate documentation for a formal assessment of fee status to

It is important that you read and clearly understand the qualification criteria that apply, as well as the terms and limits of the Free Fees Initiative.

1. General

2. Who may qualify for free tuition fees under the free fees initiative?

There are three criteria for qualification.
All must be met in full prior to commencing a degree programme.

A. Students must belong to one or more of the following categories:-
Additionally -
B. All students must meet a Residency criterion:

All students must have been ordinarily resident* in the EU/EEA/ Swiss Confederation** for a minimum of 3 of the 5 years prior to commencing a programme at UCD.

Important Note:
For determination of eligibility for free tuition fees the place of residence of a student is deemed to be their place of education. This means that if a student receives their full-time education in a non-EU/EEA/ Swiss jurisdiction they will not be eligible for free fees.

* Ordinarily resident means being resident in the EU/EEA/Swiss Confederation for a minimum of 183 days in any one calendar year for a minimum of 3 years

** EU/EEA/Swiss Confederation Visit for a list of countries in this category


C. Students must not already have a degree or previous 3rd level attendance

Prior Attendance Degree graduates No graduate - regardless of where, when or how the degree was obtained - qualifies for free tuition.

If a student has a postgraduate qualification without having completed a primary degree they will not qualify for free fees if they chose to pursue an undergraduate programme.
Students who have completed and been awarded a level 7 “Ordinary” degree Where a student has been awarded a level 7 degree and wishes to progress to a level 8 degree they may be entitled to free fees for their first attempt at the ‘add on’ years (stages) necessary to complete their level 8 qualification. It is intended to allow students who have completed a Level 6 or 7 programme and wish to undertake a related Level 8 and desire to be eligible under the Free Fees Initiative for the duration of the “add-on” years of the related Level 8 programme.

However, the Initiative also provides for students who may only receive a partial exemption for the normal course duration, i.e. in circumstances where a student may only receive an exemption from 2 years of the Level 8 programme instead of 3.

Students who hold a Level 7 qualification, and who were approved under the Free Fees Initiative for the programme, and who undertake a new Level 8 programme from year one cannot be considered as progressing for the purpose of Free Fees Initiative. In this case, the Level 8 programme would be considered as a second undergraduate programme and not eligible under the Free Fees Initiative. However, students may be entitled to free tuition fees for the final year of their Level 8 programme i.e. if they level 7 degree was of 3 year’s duration then they will be entitled to free fees for the 4th and subsequent years only
Students who have attended but have not completed a Level 6, 7 or 8 programme A student who has attended a third level course within the EU/EEA, Swiss Confederation in the past five years, and has not completed the course, will be liable for all fees for the equivalent period that s/he was in attendance.

Note: This regulation applies whether or not the institution attended was publicly/government funded or was private or fee-paying.

3. Other Information

Exceptions Students who attend repeat years in exceptional circumstances such as certified serious illness. Where grading exemptions in extenuating circumstances have been approved by the School’s Programme Board tuition fees will not be charged for the modules thus graded. Where grading exemptions have not been awarded application must be made to the Fees and Grants Office enclosing detailed medical certificates and details of hospitalisation etc and/or other evidence where relevant. See: withdrawing from a programme.

NOTE: students who change college / university for reasons of illness cannot claim eligibility for free fees in a different college / university. Free fees apply only if the student returns to the same college / university and the same programme.
Withdrawing from a programme If a student decides to withdraw from a programme and is in receipt of Free Fees there are consequences that they must be aware of. If a student withdraws from a programme for which free fees are claimed they will be held liable for all tuition fees for the equivalent period of attendance if they decide to attend another 3rd level programme in the Republic of Ireland.

For further information please visit your Programme Office, the Student Desk and see: withdrawing from a programme

4. The free fees initiative covers the published programme fee less the student contribution and the student levy.

Student Contribution Student Levy Student Pays
How much do I pay? Students who qualify for free fees €3000 €254 €3,254
Students who qualify for free fees and have an approved Higher Education Grant Higher Education grant will cover the Student Contribution €254 €254
Please see Fee Payment Dates for details on how much and when you pay

Fees should be paid online this is the best and fastest way to pay.

Or you may request UCD-issued fee payment form (bank giro) via SISWEB. This may be used to pay fees in any bank in the Republic of Ireland.

For further details about making payment please refer to our website.

5. Undergraduate students not eligible for free tuition

Students not eligible for 'free' fees fall into four categories:

* Non-EU students who may qualify for the standard rate of EU fees must apply to the University for approval. For further details please refer to our website.

Fees should be paid online, this is the best and fastest way to pay.
Or you may request UCD-issued fee payment form (bank giro) via SISWEB. This may be used to pay fees in any bank in the Republic of Ireland.
For further details about making payment please refer to our website.