For student grants purposes, a student may be assessed as an independent student if he/she has attained the age of 23 on the 1st of January of the year of first entry to an approved post leaving certificate course or an approved higher education course, or of re-entry to an approved course following a break in studies of at least three years, and is not ordinarily resident with his/her parents from the previous 1 October. Otherwise he/she would be assessed on the basis of his/her parents' income. Only in exceptional cases, where compelling evidence of estrangement from parents/guardians is provided, can candidates who are under 23 be assessed without reference to their parents/guardians income or address.
However, compelling independent evidence of estrangement must be provided to the grant awarding authority to enable this. The type of independent evidence includes a letter from a social worker or other appropriate officer of the Health Service Executive explaining the circumstances of the estrangement. Confirmation that a student is living separately from his/her parents/guardians is not sufficient. I have no plans at present to change the eligibility arrangements in respect of students under the age of 23 who apply for a student grant.