The decision on eligibility for third level grants is a matter for the relevant local authority or VEC. These bodies do not refer individual applications to my Department except, in exceptional cases, where, for example, advice or instruction regarding a particular clause in the relevant scheme is desired. It appears that no such advice or instruction has, to date, been sought in the case of the student, referred to by the Deputy.
If an individual applicant considers that he or she has been unjustly refused a maintenance grant, or that the rate of grant awarded is not the correct one, he or she may appeal to the relevant local authority or VEC. Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down, in writing, by the relevant local authority or VEC, and remains of the view that the body has not interpreted the schemes correctly in his or her case, a letter outlining the position may be sent to my Department. Alternatively, as already indicated, the local authority or VEC may, in exceptional circumstances, seek clarification on issues from my Department. However, it is not open to me, or my Department, to depart from the terms of the maintenance grants schemes in individual cases.