Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Questions (121)

Carol Nolan


121. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an audit will be conducted from 2016 to date on the number of third-level students that have been denied a full SUSI grant due to their part-time employment earnings exceeding the €4,500 threshold; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46758/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The assessment of means under my Department's student grant scheme is based on gross income from all sources, with certain social welfare and health service executive payments being exempt.

In the assessment of means, a deduction can be made for holiday earnings made by the applicant from employment outside of term time but within the reference period. The value of this income disregard was increased from €3,809 to €4,500 in the 2016 scheme.

The student grant scheme contains a number of qualifying thresholds for various grant values. These gradations allow students just over a threshold margin, to remain in receipt of a grant, albeit at a reduced rate that reflects their relative income vis-à-vis other applicants. There are no plans to conduct an audit of the holiday earnings criterion which forms part of the overall means testing criteria.

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.