Under the terms of the Student Grant Scheme, grant assistance is awarded to students attending an approved course in an approved institution who meet the prescribed conditions of funding, including those relating to nationality, residency, previous academic attainment and means.
The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter, in the first instance, for the centralised student grant awarding authority SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland) to determine.
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.
As per Article 14 (2) of the Student Grant Scheme 2022, a student is not eligible for a grant if they have been awarded or hold a grant, scholarship, prize, allowance or bursary which is made from public funds in the State, or equivalent from a Member State, the EEA or Swiss Confederation.
With regard to the specific application, I have been advised by my officials that an ineligibility letter was issued from SUSI to the student in question on 16th March 2022 as they were in receipt of the Health & Social Care Services in Northern Ireland (HSCNI) Bursary. The student subsequently appealed to SUSI and was turned down by the Appeals Officer on 21st April 2022 on the basis that the HSCNI Bursary is a publicly funded Bursary and not included in the exceptions as outlined in Article 14 (3) of the legislation. To date the student has not submitted an appeal to the Student Grant Appeals Board.
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. Details of this fund are available from the Access Office in the third level institution attended.
In addition, tax relief at the standard rate of tax may be claimed in respect of tuition fees paid for approved courses at approved colleges of higher education. Further information on this tax relief is available from a student’s local Tax Office or from the Revenue Commissioners website, www.revenue.ie.
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. Inquiries may be emailed direct to SUSI at email@example.com. Staff in SUSI are responding to email queries within a matter of days.