Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Questions (183)

Seán Fleming

Question:

183. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on whether it is appropriate that a person in receipt of a SUSI grant that is over 21 years of age and entered third-level education at a younger age may have to provide detailed personal information in relation to their parents which could include difficult situations regarding family break up, separation or divorce; if changes will be made to the requirements for this information in order to acknowledge the way in which it may be difficult for the student to obtain the information and without same they are not able to receive a SUSI grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30140/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter in the first instance for the grant awarding authority, Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI).

For student grant purposes, students are categorised according to their circumstances either as students dependent on parents or a legal guardian, or as independent mature students.

A student’s status for grant purposes is defined at their first point of entry to an approved further or higher education course or at their point of re-entry to an approved course following a break in studies of at least three years, and continues to apply for the duration of their studies.

Article 21(2) of the Student Grant Scheme 2019 states that where a dependent student's parents are divorced or legally separated, or it is established to the satisfaction of the relevant authority that they are separated, the income to be assessed is that of the student and the parent with whom she/he resides.

The onus is on the grant applicant to provide the necessary documentary evidence as requested by the relevant grant awarding authority. Such documentary evidence will vary from student to student, depending on each individual's particular set of circumstances. Where the student cannot establish to the satisfaction of the awarding authority that her/his parents are separated (legally or otherwise) then the income to be assessed is that of both parents.

If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a student grant, or that the rate of grant awarded is not the correct one, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to SUSI. Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down in writing by an appeals officer in SUSI and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal may be submitted to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board within the required timeframe (i.e. not later than 30 days after the notification of the determination of the appeals officer to the applicant). Such appeals can be made by the appellant on line via www.studentgrantappeals.ie.

Apart from the Student Grant Scheme, students in third-level institutions experiencing exceptional financial need can apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund. This Fund assists students, in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise be unable to continue their third level studies due to their financial circumstances. Details of this fund are available from the Access Office in the third level institution attended.

In addition, tax relief at the standard rate of tax may be claimed in respect of tuition fees paid for approved courses at approved colleges of higher education. Further information on this tax relief is available from a student’s local Tax Office or from the Revenue Commissioners website, www.revenue.ie.