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Student Support Schemes Issues

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 12 November 2013

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Questions (146)

Ann Phelan


146. Deputy Ann Phelan asked the Minister for Education and Skills in regard to the residential qualifications for those applying to Student Universal Support Ireland, if an applicant is under 23 years of age on 1 January in the year of entry, or re-entry, to an approved course, the applicant is not considered to be living independently of their parents-guardians, even if the applicant is not living with them; if this is the case where the applicant has a spouse; if only mature students, that is those over the age of 23, who are living away from home are considered to be independent applicants and will be assessed as such; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48264/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

For student grants purposes, a student may be assessed as an independent student if he/she has attained the age of 23 on the 1 of January of the year of first entry to an approved post leaving certificate course or an approved higher education course, or of re-entry to an approved course following a break in studies of at least three years, and is not ordinarily resident with his/her parents from the previous 1 October. Otherwise he/she would continue to be assessed on the basis of his/her parents' income.

In recognition of the fact that a student under 23 years of age can be estranged from his/her parents, it is possible under the student grant scheme, as an exceptional measure, for such a student to be assessed without reference to his/her parents/guardians income. However, compelling independent evidence of estrangement must be provided to the grant awarding authority to enable this. The type of independent evidence includes a letter from a social worker or other appropriate officer of the Health Service Executive explaining the circumstances of the estrangement. Confirmation that a student is living separately from his/her parents/guardians is not sufficient.

Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down, in writing, by SUSI, and remains of the view that SUSI has not interpreted the scheme correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the Student Grant Appeals Board. The relevant appeal form will be available on request from SUSI. I have no plans at present to change the eligibility arrangements in respect of students under the age of 23 who apply for a student grant.