Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Ceisteanna (160)

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

160. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications for a third level maintenance grant refused in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019 as a result of an independent mature student being unable to provide proof of independent residence according to the SUSI requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12047/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Applicant Class is determined by age, first point of entry or re-entry into further or higher education, and provision by the applicant of documentary evidence of independent residence. SUSI requires applicants to provide evidence to determine they are living independently as per Article 13 (3) of the Student Grant Scheme 2018.

The specific data requested by the Deputy is not collected by SUSI. However, SUSI has provided statistics on the number of independent awards, refusals and cancellations for the period in question. These statistics are set out in the following table:

- Status

2015-16

2016-17

2017-18

2018-19

Awarded

11,057

9,760

8,681

7,724

Refused

3,993

3,290

3,083

2,611

Cancelled

2,427

1,914

2,039

1,598

Total

17,477

14,964

13,803

11,933

Independent Awards/Refusals/Cancellations 2015-2019

For the current academic year 11,993 applicants applied as ‘independent’ and out of those the majority, 7,724, were awarded a grant. 2,611 were refused for a number of reasons, including failure to meet one or more of the eligibility criteria. 1,598 applications were cancelled. In relation to cancelled applications there can be a number of reasons as to why an application may be cancelled, including a cohort that would cancel their application prior to a decision on their grant in order that they can re-apply as a ‘Mature Dependent’ with detail of the income of parent(s)/guardian(s).

SUSI works with applicants in relation to the documentary evidence that is required to demonstrate independent residence and will advise of the option to re-apply as a Mature Dependent if an applicant cannot provide the necessary documentation required to validate their application as an ‘independent’ student. SUSI is mindful of the variety of living arrangements of individuals applying for a grant and publicises a list of documents that are deemed sufficient for demonstrating independent residence. Given the variation in the documents supplied by applicants this is done on a case-by-case basis and dependent upon the range of documents that can affirm independent residence for the required periods. Often documents are taken in conjunction with one another to assist in the assessment of an applicant as independent. The type of documentation accepted includes:

- A letter confirming that the address is registered with RTB (Residential Tenancies Board);

- A Local Authority lease agreement or a letter confirming the rental under the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) or any Government Housing Scheme/Arrangement;

- A letter on headed paper from a Rental Agency confirming tenancy;

- A letter confirming the receipt and period of Rent Allowance, Mortgage Interest Supplement or Housing Assistance Payment (HAP);

- A Utility bill in applicant’s own name, for example; landline telephone (mobile telephone bills are not accepted), fixed broadband, gas, electricity or cable/satellite television bill/home heating bills/waste bills/Mortgage Statements/Property Tax Letters. If the utility bills in the household are in the spouse’s name, then a copy of a marriage certificate is required with the utility bill (if co-habiting SUSI will accept utility bills in the partner’s name covering the relevant period together with correspondence e.g. bank statement/P21 issued to the applicant at the same address and covering the relevant period); and/or

- Official documentation posted to the applicant at the address and relating to their residence there. For example, a letter from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection confirming Rent Allowance at the address.