Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Chris Hazzard has called on parents to apply early for free school meals, school uniform and PE clothing.
Mr Hazzard said,
“It is important that grant renewal and fresh application forms are returned to the Education Boards as soon as possible.
"This willensure that no eligible child loses out or has their application unduly delayed as we move towards the new term in September.
“Sinn Féin Education Minister John O Dowd has worked to ensure that more families on low income or benefits become eligible for free school meals and school clothing grants.
“The costs of fitting out a child for school represent a major financial burden, particularly upon families with more than one child at school. So it is important that families get their application in early.
“There may also be families who are still unaware that their children are eligible for school meals or the school uniform and PE clothing grant assistance.
"Therefore I would encourage everyone to be aware of the current eligibility criteria which can be checked through local education boards.
“Free School Meals can also be awarded if your child has a statement of special educational needs and is designated to require a special diet.
“In the 2014/15 school year, an additional 15,000 secondary level pupils will also be able to avail of free school meals and uniform grants as a result Minister John O’Dowd’s decision to extend the criteria currently governing primary school pupils to secondary school pupils as well.”