Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Ceisteanna (872)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

872. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if his attention has been drawn to the fact that many students will not receive the maintenance grant until 9 October 2020 at the earliest; the way in which these students will be supported; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22258/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

At the end of August, SUSI had received over 91,000 applications from students with over 67,500 students assessed as eligible for support for academic year 2020-21.

In line with previous years, SUSI’s payment schedule is updated to coincide with college start dates. In accordance with legislation, to receive payment, students must be registered with their college and the college must confirm their registration with SUSI.

SUSI consulted with colleges and found that for academic year 2020-21, the majority will open towards the end of September or the beginning of October. While SUSI is ready to pay maintenance grants to awarded students as soon as it is practical to do so, the first scheduled payment date for maintenance grants is October 9; this affords students the necessary time to register with their college and for colleges to then confirm their registration with SUSI.

To ensure students receive their first payment as soon as possible, SUSI will be making weekly payments from October 9. For the academic year 2020-21, the first payment will be made sooner after colleges commence than in previous years.

To ensure that students receive the necessary supports when they return to education this autumn, four scheduled maintenance payments will be made before the end of December, with two payments scheduled to be made in October.

The Deputy will be aware of the recently announced €168m funding package for the return to education. This package includes a €10m access support package for higher education students. I have approved the allocation of €8.1m of this funding to top up the Student Assistance Fund.

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 Officer in the third level institution attended. This fund is administered on a confidential, discretionary basis.