It’s been a very busy couple of weeks for CAO applicants in the run up to February 1 – marking the normal closing date for applicants. If you haven’t applied yet and still wish to do so all is not lost. The late application facility opens on March 5 at an increased fee of €60 and closes on May 1 at 5.15pm. Some restrictions do apply. For the 79,303 applicants who applied by the February 1 deadline there are important deadlines to be aware of in the coming months.


Students applying to HEAR & DARE

The online forms must be completed by March 1 at 5.15pm and supporting documentation for both schemes must reach CAO by March 15 at 5.15pm. These deadlines are non-negotiable, so if you think you may be eligible and wish to apply make sure you do so well in advance of the deadlines. In the case of the DARE scheme some changes have been announced in the past week regarding supporting documentation. Recognising the difficulty that applicants and schools are facing because of school closures, two temporary changes have been made to Section B, the Educational Impact Statement. Schools can now electronically sign off students’ supporting documentation and students who are applying with Specific Learning Difficulties can now use literacy or numeracy attainment test scores which are up to three years older than those originally sought (from 2016 instead of 2019). If you have any queries make sure to contact your guidance counsellor in school.


Mature Students

Applicants who are over 23 and applying as a mature applicant must complete the Mature Applicant Form by March 1 and supply supporting documentation within 10 days of making an application. Changes to courses can be made from today (Friday 5) at 12pm up to March 1 at 5.15pm by using the online facility to amend course choices at a cost of €10.

Restricted Courses

Students who wish to apply for ‘Restricted Courses’ and who haven’t done so by the February 1 deadline can do so from February 5 at 12 noon up to March 1 at 5.15pm for a fee of €10.

Taking up a deferred place

If you have deferred a college place from the 2020 CAO offers and wish to take up that place this year you must still apply to CAO in 2021 by ticking the deferred entry box. Place your deferred course as your first and only choice.

Language Exemptions

Make sure to check specific requirements of all the courses you are applying for. If you wish to apply for an exemption from Irish and/or a third language, you must contact the admissions office of the college to check how to apply. In the case of NUI colleges you will find the details on You must notify CAO of your exemption and then check that this information is included in the Statement of Application Record that you will receive in May.

Leaving Certs from 2020 who have received results from November exams

If your grades improve the State Exams Commission will notify CAO. Improved results will be communicated by CAO to the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) who will determine if you would have received an offer if these grades had been in place when CAO offers came out in 2020. If you are deemed eligible for an offer based on your improved results, the HEI will contact you to offer you a deferred place to take up in 2021 and you will be told how to take up this place – you will not be able to access your 2020 CAO account, all communication will come to you directly from HEIs, not CAO.