The Deputy will be aware that there are various income thresholds used depending on the type of grant, family size etc. While SUSI has statistics on those students who have applied for grant support and can estimate with some degree of certainty, what impact changes to the thresholds might have for those students on lower income levels, the accuracy of its estimates become less reliable at the higher income levels. Prospective applicants on higher incomes may not have applied for support as their income was above the relevant threshold. As such, it is not possible to accurately cost the number of additional students who may qualify for support, if the thresholds are increased.
Allowing for the limitations regarding the accuracy of the costings, it is estimated that a 5% increase in the income thresholds would cost in the region of €10m and a 10% increase would cost in the region of €20m. The cost of increasing the threshold by 20% is more difficult to estimate given the potentially large number of students who may benefit but who have not previously applied to SUSI for support. It is therefore estimated that a 20% increase could cost in the region of €50m.
The above figures do not include any changes to the income thresholds for the special rate of maintenance grants which are linked to long-term social welfare payments nor do they include any changes to the post-graduate income thresholds.