Written answers

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Department of Education and Skills

Student Grant Scheme

Photo of Donnchadh Ó LaoghaireDonnchadh Ó Laoghaire (Cork South Central, Sinn Fein)
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274. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the situation that applies to students that are not classed as independent for the purposes of the SUSI grant whose parents are temporarily unemployed due to Covid-19-related circumstances but do not know if they will be taken on again such as, for example, in the bar or retail trade; and if persons in these circumstances will qualify for the change of circumstances clause in SUSI. [8025/20]

Photo of Joe McHughJoe McHugh (Donegal, Fine Gael)
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Student grant applications for academic year 2020/21 will be assessed based on income earned in 2019.

However, 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.

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.

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.

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. Should a student wish to discuss their particular circumstances with SUSI, the Support Desk may be contacted by telephone 0761 087 874 or email: support@susi.ie

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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