Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (255)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire


255. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the effect the housing crisis has on applicants that apply for SUSI grants but cannot apply as independent students in view of the fact they cannot provide an address of their own will be considered. [34708/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

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.

For a dependent student, the reckonable income for grant purposes includes both his/her own income and that of his/her parents/legal guardians.

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

An applicant's class is defined at his/her first point of entry to an approved higher or further education course and this will continue to apply for the duration of his/her studies.

While it is not possible to appeal an applicant’s class during the course of his/her studies, an applicant may be assessed or re-assessed by the awarding authority in the event of a change of circumstances relating to the following:

- Permanent change in reckonable income;

- Number of dependent children residing in the household;

- Commencement of an approved course;

- Normal residence;

- Nationality or immigration status; and

- Change of course or institution. 

Whilst there is no discretion to deviate from the particular provisions of the Student Grant Scheme and governing legislation, SUSI implements procedures for the timely, sensitive and confidential handling of exceptional circumstances applications.

If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a student grant on the grounds of his/her initial classification as an independent or dependent student, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to SUSI. Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down in writing by SUSI and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal, outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board at within the required timeframe.

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. Information on the fund is available through the Access Officer in the third level institution attended. This fund is administered on a confidential, discretionary basis.