The report of the action group on access to third level education makes detailed recommendations concerning the introduction of special rates of maintenance grants for disadvantaged students.
The action group considered that the target group of "those most in need" could best be defined in terms of the child dependants of people receiving long-term welfare payments, in respect of whom continued child dependant allowance is being paid by virtue of their being in full-time education, that is, child dependants in the age group 18 to 22.
The action group recommended that the special rates of maintenance grant should also be available to mature students, that is students aged 23 and over.
In order to qualify for the special rate of maintenance grant a candidate must meet a number of conditions, one of which is that s/he must already qualify for one of my Department's ordinary maintenance grants.
The eligibility requirements for the special rates of maintenance grant will be reviewed on an ongoing basis with a view to extending eligibility. A first step will be to assess the coverage and effectiveness of the implementation of the special rates in this first year of operation.
The three means-tested maintenance grant schemes for third level students attending approved courses in approved third level institutions funded by my Department are the higher education grants scheme, the vocational education committees' scholarship scheme and the third level maintenance grants scheme for trainees.