Written answers

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Department of Education and Skills

Student Grant Scheme

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent)
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223. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will address a matter regarding SUSI grants (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10854/20]

Photo of Joe McHughJoe McHugh (Donegal, Fine Gael)
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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 1st January 2019 to 31st December 2019.

The Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, administered by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) will be treated as reckonable income for the SUSI means assessment process in a similar fashion to other DEASP payments (e.g. Jobseekers Benefit & Allowance). This ensures a consistency of approach and an equitable treatment of students and their families in the SUSI means assessment process. This approach is entirely consistent with well-established practice by SUSI and is in accordance with the statutory provisions of the Student Grant Scheme.

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 of the relevant Student Grant Scheme. Following such a review, the applicant may fall within the thresholds to become eligible for grant assistance or be entitled to an increased rate of grant or the special rate of grant.

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, i.e.  2 weeks at Easter, the 12 weeks of summer (June, July and August) and 2 weeks at Christmas. Under the Student Grant Scheme 2020, a deduction of up to €4,500 can be made under this provision.

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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