Third level grant applications must be fairer – Deputy Jonathan O’Brien
Nearly a week after the deadline for online third level applications closed, Sinn Féin education spokesperson, Jonathan O’Brien, TD, has said that changes to the way grants are assessed must be made in order to ensure greater fairness.
Deputy O’Brien said: “When the extension to the 1 August deadline was reached, SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland) had received a total of 59,000 new applications for third level grants compared to 34,000 this time last year.
“I understand that SUSI aims to have payments made by late October which will be a serious challenge that can only be achieved with good pre-planning and the allocation of adequate resources.
“The criteria and income threshold which is used to assess grant applications must be reviewed.The current system, that is based on a student’s reckonable income, looks at all sources of gross income relevant to his or her application.
“This means that for a family with four children or less the limit is set at €39,875, an annual gross income that is expected to pay for the rising cost of living and the payment of taxes such as the household charge.
“The existing qualifying threshold is for many therefore, very punitive, and this is preventing a significant number of students accessing higher education.
“A fairer system would be to consider the net income of a family that takes into account their outgoings. This would provide a more accurate reflection of a family’s disposable income and is an issue I will be asking Education Minister Ruairí Quinn to consider when the Dáil returns in September.
“In the meantime, I would like to wish all of students who applied to SUSI every success with their applications which I hope will be processed on time so they can concentrate on their studies.”