The eligibility criteria for student grants including the income thresholds is reviewed annually in my Department and approved by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. As the Deputy will be aware, all proposals made in relation to education expenditure, including changes to grant rates are announced as part of the budget process. There were no changes to the thresholds in Budget 2020.
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.
In the assessment of means, a deduction can be made for holiday earnings made by the applicant from employment outside of term time but within the reference period. The value of this income disregard was increased from €3,809 to €4,500 in the 2016 scheme.
The aim of the student grant scheme has always been to make a contribution to the cost of going to college, covering the full cost has never been a feasible option.
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.