Advice for students as CAO deadline looms

As the February 1 deadline for applications to the CAO looms, we talk to CAO Communications Officer Eileen Keleghan, who shares her advice on how to navigate this stressful time
Advice for students as CAO deadline looms
Trying to navigate the CAO forms? Read our tips for advice.

THE Central Applications Office (CAO) application deadline for undergraduate courses in Irish Higher Education Institutions is Monday, February 1 at 5.15pm.

Applicants who have not yet completed their application are urged by CAO to do so immediately, particularly mature applicants, applicants for the HEAR or DARE schemes, or other restricted category applicants who must apply to CAO by the February 1 deadline.

Potential applicants who have not yet started their application should carefully read the CAO Handbook and go to the CAO website and click on ‘Apply’ to start their application.

It is important that applicants start their application well in advance of the final deadline in order to avoid any issues which may arise if they leave their application to the last minute.

We appreciate that the completion of a CAO application can be quite a stressful time for applicants, but the most important step at this stage is to register on the system and obtain your CAO application number in order to avoid encountering any restrictions.

This first step in the application process is very straight-forward. Applicants need to provide their identification and contact details, and select the qualifications and assessments section that is relevant to them. On completing this section and paying the application fee (€30 up to January 20 at 5.15 pm and €45 up to February 1 at 5.15 pm) applicants will then receive their CAO application number; from there they can log in to their CAO account via the My Application facility to edit their application, provide additional information required to support their application, and to add their course choices.

Our website contains a number of guides and supports for applicants which should make the application process easy to navigate, including a ‘Demo Application Facility’ and step-by- step video guides talking applicants through the process of obtaining their CAO application number and editing their CAO account.

Every year a number of applicants leave the submission of their application to the last couple of hours or even minutes without thinking about the consequences of their browser timing out, their internet connection failing, or encountering payment issues. In order to be fair to all applicants strict deadlines apply and applicants should submit their application in a timely manner.

Applicants who do not process their application in advance of the deadline can submit a late application at an increased fee of €60 for an online application or €80 for a paper application. This facility closes at 5.15pm on May 1 and restrictions apply.

Applicants who have already submitted their CAO application have up to 5.15pm on January 31 to add, remove or re-order courses free of charge. If an applicant is considering applying for a restricted course they should make sure to include the course details in their application before this deadline. If they do not apply for a restricted course before the deadline an additional fee of €10 applies for the use of the Change of Course Choices facility, which is available to registered applicants only, from February 5 t March 1 at 5.15pm.

The CAO Change of Mind facility opens on the May 5. This facility allows applicants the opportunity to add, remove or change the order of their courses as many times as they like (and free of charge) right up the 1 July at 5.15 pm, however it is important to note that restrictions apply. Applicants are reminded that they should list their course choices in genuine order of preference.

To apply to CAO go to and click on ‘Apply’.


CAO Normal Application Deadline is February 1 at 5.15pm.

A discounted application fee of €30 applies for applicants who make an application before 5.15 pm on January 20. The normal online application fee is €45.

CAO Change of Course Choices Facility for registered applicants opens on February 5 and closes on March 1 at 5.15pm — a fee of €10 applies.

HEAR or DARE applicants must apply to CAO by February 1 at 5.15pm.

HEAR or DARE applicants have until March 1 at 5.15pm to complete their online HEAR or DARE form. HEAR or DARE applicants must submit their supporting documentation to CAO by April 1 at 5:15pm.

The CAO Late Application facility closes on May 1 at 5.15pm — restrictions apply.

The CAO Change of Mind Facility opens on May 5 and closes at 5.15pm on July 1 — this facility is free of charge. In general, restricted courses cannot be added using this facility and some restricted category applicants may encounter restrictions when using this facility.

A number of video guides are available in the Student Resources section of

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