Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (271)

Niamh Smyth


271. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) can change from independent status back to dependent status due to family circumstances immediately without a three-year wait; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34914/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Article 13 (2) of the Student Grant Scheme 2019 states that an applicant's class is defined at their first point of entry to an approved course or at their point of re-entry to such a course and this classification will continue to apply for the duration of his/her studies.

Article 13 (5) states that re-entry means a mature student entering an approved course following a break in studies of at least three years, having previously attended an approved course.

Neither the Appeals Officer or the Student Grants Appeals Board have discretion to deviate from the provisions of the Student Grant Scheme and governing legislation in making a determination on an individual appeal irrespective of the personal circumstances of the case.

Under the terms of the scheme the only eligible payments required to be held for 391 consecutive days is Jobseeker Allowance or Jobseeker's Benefit.  In general terms Jobseekers Allowance is considered to be a short-term payment unless it is held for 391 consecutive days at the 31st December 2017. The Scheme makes provision for combining periods of Jobseeker's Allowance, Jobseeker's Benefit and other eligible payments for the purposes of meeting 391 days as determined by the Department of Social Protection.

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.