Thursday, 26 September 2019

Questions (85)

James Browne


85. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the threshold for a person who lives with his or her parents or guardians to become an independent applicant for postgraduate SUSI assistance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39134/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The main financial support available for qualifying postgraduate students is the Student Grant Scheme.

Postgraduate students who meet the qualifying conditions for the special rate of grant under the Student Grant Scheme are eligible for a maintenance grant of up to €5,915; the income threshold in 2019/20 for this grant is €24,000. Qualifying postgraduate students may also be eligible to have their tuition fees paid up to a maximum fee limit of €6,270.

Alternatively, a postgraduate student may qualify to have a €2,000 contribution made towards the cost of his/her fees. The income threshold for this payment is €31,500 for the 2019/2020 academic year.

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. 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.

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.

The re-entry provision of the scheme allows mature students who have previously attended an approved course and are now entering an approved course following a break in studies of at least three years, to have their status reclassified from dependent to independent student.

In terms of other supports, the main support is the Student Assistance Fund. This fund is available to students in third-level institutions experiencing exceptional financial need. 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.

Tax relief also is available on postgraduate tuition fees. Details in relation to this relief are available from the Revenue Commissioners at