Different State support schemes have different objectives. The main objective of the Department's statutory based Student Grant Scheme is to provide assistance where parental income is below a certain threshold or in the case of independent mature students, where the level of income of the student and his or her spouse warrants additional assistance by way of a grant.
The Student Grant Scheme contains a number of qualifying thresholds for various grant values. These gradations allow students just over a threshold margin, to remain in receipt of a grant, albeit at a reduced rate that reflect their relative income vis-à-vis other applicants.
The Student Grant Scheme also provides for different levels of income thresholds where families have (i) less than 4 dependent children (ii) between 4 and 7 dependent children and (iii) 8 or more dependent children. In recognition of the additional cost to families where more than one person is attending college, income thresholds may also be increased by up to €4,830 for each additional family member attending college at the same time. In this way, the Student Grant Scheme is responsive to the individual circumstances of particular families.
The assessment of means under my Department's Student Grant Scheme is based on gross income from all sources, with certain social welfare and health service executive payments being exempt. While the Affordable Childcare Scheme has both universal and means-tested elements, the Student Grant Scheme is entirely means-tested.
The Deputy will appreciate that the funding allocation for student grants is determined in the context of the overall estimates and budgetary process undertaken by all Government Departments. As such, it would not be appropriate to comment on specific issues or proposals including those relating to student grants at this stage. However, all proposals made in relation to education expenditure will be considered in the context of Budget 2020, having regard to overall resource constraints and other competing demands in the education sector.