Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (667)

Richard Boyd Barrett


667. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if a person (details supplied) is entitled to the SUSI special grant rate as they have been previously; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38340/20]

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Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

As part of a comprehensive customer service and communications strategy provided by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI), to ensure that all necessary avenues are open to applicants to receive the information they need, a dedicated email and phone line service is provided by SUSI for Oireachtas members. This was established to meet an identified need for applicants who choose to engage the assistance of their public representatives in making enquiries about their grant applications.This service, which was set up at the behest of Oireachtas members, complements the established channels provided by SUSI which include online application tracking, a dedicated website, a telephone helpdesk, email and social media, including Facebook and Twitter. Enquiries may be emailed direct to SUSI at oireachtas@susi.ie. Staff in SUSI are responding to email queries within a matter of days.

Under the terms of the student grant scheme, grant assistance is awarded to students on full-time courses who meet the prescribed conditions of funding including those which relate to nationality, residency, approved course, previous academic attainment and means.

The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter in the first instance for the grant awarding authority, Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI).

To be eligible for the Special Rate of grant, an applicant's total reckonable income must not exceed €24,500 and must include on the 31st December of the year prior to their application, one of the eligible payments as provided for in Schedule 2 of the Student Grant Scheme 2020. A party to the appeal must hold combined periods of Jobseeker's Allowance and Jobseeker's Benefit and other eligible payments for purposes of meeting the prescribed period of 391 days as determined by the Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection.

As part of SUSI’s internal processes, Post Assessment Quality Reviews are carried out on applications both for the current academic year and all prior academic years. The application for the student in the details supplied was reassessed under one of these reviews for the 2020/21 academic year. When assessing an applicant’s eligibility for the Special Rate of grant it was determined that while there was an eligible payment (Jobseeker’s Allowance) on the 31st December 2019, the duration of the payment did not meet the prescribed period of 391 days as determined by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a student grant, or that the rate of grant awarded is not the correct one, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to SUSI.Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down in writing by an appeals officer in SUSI and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal may be submitted to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board within the required timeframe (i.e. not later than 30 days after the notification of the determination of the appeals officer to the applicant). Such appeals can be made by the appellant on line via www.studentgrantappeals.ie.

Apart from the Student Grant Scheme, 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 Office in the third level institution attended.