Written Answers. - Higher Education Grants.

Gerry Reynolds

Question:

1031 Mr. G. Reynolds asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason a person (details supplied) in County Sligo has been turned down for the mature student's third level education grant. [19947/00]

The higher education grant schemes operate under the Local Authorities (Higher Education Grants) Acts, 1968 to 1992. Under the terms of these Acts a mature student is defined as a person of not less than 23 years of age on 1 January of the year of entry to their third level course. Under the terms of the higher education grants schemes, mature students are categorised as either independent mature students or mature students dependent on parents. An independent mature student is defined to mean a mature student who was not ordinarily resident at home with his or her parents from the October preceding their entry to an approved course. Independent mature students are deemed to be self-supporting and are assessed without reference to either their parents' income or address.

As the student to whom the Deputy refers was not 23 on the 1 January 1998, the year in which she commenced her third level education, she cannot be assessed as a mature student.

When assessing the means of students, other than mature students, the Acts specify that the students' means and those of their parents or guardians must be below a prescribed limit. This provision requires that parental income be taken into account irrespective of the individual circumstances in any case where the student is not a mature student. In this regard, as my Department understands that she has not already done so, the student in question should submit details of her parental income to Sligo VEC in order that her eligibility for grant assistance may be assessed.