Wednesday, 30 June 2021
Department of Education and Skills
168. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated full-year cost to the Exchequer of increasing the reckonable income threshold for entitlement to student universal support Ireland allowance by 1%, 5% and 10% in regard of 100%, 75%, 50% and 25% and special rates, respectively. [35220/21]
169. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated full-year cost to the Exchequer of increasing the reckonable income threshold for entitlement to student universal support Ireland allowance by 10% in regard of 100%, 75%, 50% and 25% and special rates respectively and subsequently increasing maintenance payment rates by 10%; and the estimated number of new students who would be benefit from such. [35221/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 168 and 169 together.
The Deputy will be aware that there are various income thresholds used depending on the type of grant, family size etc. While SUSI has statistics on those students who have applied for grant support and can estimate with some degree of certainty, what impact changes to the thresholds might have for those students on lower income levels, the accuracy of its estimates become less reliable at the higher income levels. Prospective applicants on higher incomes may not have applied for support as their income was above the relevant threshold. As such, it is not possible to accurately cost the number of additional students who may qualify for support, if the thresholds are increased.
The estimated cost of increasing the SUSI income bracket by 10% on all thresholds and adding 10% to the maintenance grant is as follows. Please note data used is 2019-20 figures with applied requested changes.
- Increase of 19,000 to 23,000 additional recipients based on SUSI applications received for the 2019/20 academic year.
- Increase in cost to the exchequer would be in the region of €40-€50 million.
The estimated cost of increasing the SUSI income thresholds by 1%, 5% and 10% on all thresholds is as follows (based on 2019/20 academic year):
- Increase in cost to the exchequer for 1% would be in the region of €2-3 million.
- Increase in cost to the exchequer for 5% would be in the region of €10-€15 million.
- Increase in cost to the exchequer for 10% would be in the region of €20-€30 million.
The above figures do not include any changes to the income thresholds for the special rate of maintenance grants which are linked to long-term social welfare payments.
The Programme for Government contains commitments to, amongst other things, review SUSI eligibility criteria, adjacency rates and postgraduate grant supports. The review of the Student Grant Scheme is underway with over 250 submissions received via the public consultation process and over 9,000 survey responses were received through an online survey process. It is anticipated that the SUSI review will be completed later this year and will inform policy priorities for the next Estimates process and future considerations regarding the development of student grant policy. At this point I cannot pre-empt the outcome of the review to indicate when any proposed changes will come into effect.