The purpose of the Student Grant Scheme is to provide additional 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.
For student grant purposes, students are categorised according to their circumstances either as students dependent on parents or a legal guardian, or as independent mature students.For a dependent student, the reckonable income for grant purposes includes both his/her own income and that of his/her parents/legal guardians.
A student may be assessed as an independent mature student if he or she has attained the age of 23 on the 1st January of the year of first entry to an approved course, or of re-entry following a break in studies of at least three years, and is not ordinarily resident with his/her parents from the previous October. Otherwise he or she would continue to be assessed on the basis of parental income.
An applicant's class is defined at his/her first point of entry to an approved higher or further education course and will continue to apply for the duration of his/her studies.
The re-entry provision of the scheme allows mature students who have previously attended an approved course and are now entering an approved course following a break in studies of at least three years, to have their status reclassified from dependent to independent student.
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 reflects their relative income vis-à-vis other applicants.
There are no plans at present to change the current arrangements in place. Students in third-level institutions experiencing exceptional financial need can apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund. This Fund assists students, in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise be unable to continue their third level studies due to their financial circumstances. Information on the fund is available through the Access Office in the third level institution attended. This fund is administered on a confidential, discretionary basis.