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.
The scheme operates in the context of competing educational priorities and limited public funding. The aim of the scheme is to make a contribution to the cost of going to college; covering the full cost has never been a feasible option.
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.
A student may be assessed as an independent student (i.e. assessed without reference to parental income and address) if he/she has attained the age of 23 on the 1st of January of the year of first entry to an approved course, and is not ordinarily resident with his/her parents from the previous 1st October. Otherwise, he/she would be assessed as a dependent student, i.e. assessed with reference to parental income and address.
A student’s status for grant purposes is defined at their first point of entry to an approved further or higher education course or at their point of re-entry to an approved course following a break in studies of at least three years, and continues to apply for the duration of their studies.
However, there are points at which a student may reclassify from a dependent student to an independent student. These are where he/she:
- Progresses from further education to higher education.
- Is returning following a 3 year break in studies.
- Is returning as a "second chance" student after a five year break in studies.
The decision on eligibility for student grant applications is a matter for the centralised grant awarding authority, SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland).
Applicants who do not meet the criteria to be assessed as an independent student for grant purposes, or who cannot supply the necessary documentation to establish independent living for the required period, may still apply to SUSI to have their grant eligibility assessed as a dependent student. The relevant information, including details of parental income, would be required by SUSI to determine grant eligibility as a dependent student.
Further information regarding class of applicant (independent or dependent) and the types of documentation accepted as evidence of living independently from parents is available from SUSI’s website: https://susi.ie/eligibility/applicant-class/.