Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Education and Skills

Student Universal Support Ireland

Photo of Róisín ShortallRóisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Social Democrats)
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350. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the criteria for a SUSI application change of circumstances assessment or reassessment (details supplied) due to Covid-19. [6666/20]

Photo of Joe McHughJoe McHugh (Donegal, Fine Gael)
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The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter for the centralised student grant awarding authority SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland) to determine. 

The Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment will not affect student grants in the academic year 2019/20. Students will continue to receive their maintenance grants as normal and the duration or value of the grant will not change.

For the 20/21 academic year student grant applications will be assessed based on gross income from all sources for the period 1 January 2019 to 31December 2019.

However as you are aware, if a student or party to their application experiences a change in circumstances that is not a temporary change and is likely to continue for the foreseeable future they can apply to have their application assessed under the change in circumstances provision.

When an employment ceases, such as in cases of redundancy, there is always the possibility that the person could commence new employment shortly thereafter and there is also the possibility that the person will remain unemployed for a considerable length of time.  For this reason any applicant who is awarded a grant, or has their grant level increased, following the implementation of the change of circumstances conditions may be reviewed by SUSI later in the academic year. 

In the case of a change of circumstances all household income, and not just the income of the person experiencing the change, will be assessed/reassessed on the basis of the current year (2020). The change of circumstance is not applied retrospectively. Therefore, if the change occurs during the academic year, any award or adjustment will take effect from the month in which the change occurred.This provision may benefit some students whose income has fallen in 2020 due to Covid-19 issues.

SUSI’s online application process for student grant applications for the 2020/21 academic year opened on 23rd April, 2020. Students are advised to submit their renewal student grant application as soon as possible. The priority closing dates for the 2020/21 academic year are 11 June 2020 for renewal applicants and 9 July 2020 for new applicants.

Further information in relation to student grant assistance is available from SUSI’s website, www.susi.ie. The telephone number for SUSI’s Helpdesk is 0761 087 874.

Apart from the Student Grant Scheme, students in third-level institutions experiencing exceptional financial need can apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund. This Fund assists full-time and part-time students, in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise be unable to continue their third level studies due to their financial circumstances. Details of this fund are available from the Access Office in the third level institution attended. Institutions have the autonomy to maximise the flexibility in the Student Assistance Fund to enable HEIs to support students during the COVID-19 situation. 

In addition, tax relief at the standard rate of tax may be claimed in respect of tuition fees paid for approved courses at approved colleges of higher education. Further information on this tax relief is available from students’ local Tax Offices or from the Revenue Commissioners website, www.revenue.ie.

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