Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Ceisteanna (108)

Charlie McConalogue


108. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his Department has investigated difficulties experienced by mature students in availing of a student grant; his plans to relax the criteria applied to independent students (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40889/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Very significant numbers of third-level students move out of home to go to college and continue to be supported by their parents while in full-time education. Confirmation that a student is living separately from his/her parents is of itself, not sufficient to establish independent status.

When considering whether a student meets the conditions to be assessed independently of his or her parents, grant awarding authorities like SUSI are obliged to satisfy themselves beyond doubt that an acceptable degree of proof of independent living in the relevant period has been submitted by the grant applicant.

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 continue to be assessed on the basis of his/her parents' income.

The onus is on the grant applicant to provide the necessary documentary evidence as requested by the relevant grant awarding authority. Such documentary evidence will vary from student to student, depending on each individual's particular set of circumstances.

The type of documentary evidence required by SUSI can be viewed at the following link: https://susi.ie/eligibility/applicant-class.

It is important to note that each year a significant number of student grant applicants are assessed as 'independent' students and awarded student supports on that basis.

If an individual applicant considers that he/she has been unjustly refused a student grant, he/she may appeal, in the first instance, to his/her awarding body. Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down in writing by the awarding authority and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board.