For Oral Answer on : 20/05/2021
Question Number(s): 153 Question Reference(s): 26786/21
Department: Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Further and Higher Education; Research; Innovation and Science his plans to update the SUSI review process and potentially increase the current income thresholds and eligibility criteria for grant applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Student Grant Scheme, administered by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI), provides grant assistance to eligible students attending an approved course at an approved institution who meet the prescribed conditions of funding, including those relating to nationality, residency, previous academic attainment and means.
The eligibility criteria for student grants are reviewed annually by the Department and approved by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. All proposals made in relation to higher education expenditure, including student grants for the 2021/22 academic year, are considered in the context of the annual Budget.
The student grant is a contribution towards the cost of attending college. The scheme provides for different levels of maintenance support, depending on means. There are different levels of income thresholds where families have (i) less than 4 dependent children (ii) between 4 and 7 dependent children and (iii) 8 or more dependent children.
In recognition of the additional cost to families where more than one person is attending college, income thresholds may also be increased by up to €4,830 for each additional family member attending college at the same time. In this way, the Student Grant Scheme is responsive to the individual circumstances of particular families.
Grants are also provided at adjacent and non-adjacent rates. The higher non-adjacent rates are intended to provide additional support to those students who may be living away from home. There are provisions for a number of income disregards which are not counted as reckonable income for the student grant means test.
Particular priority is afforded to those on the lowest incomes and social welfare dependents through the special rate of grant, which is payable at the higher non-adjacent rate of €5,915 or the adjacent rate of €2,375, depending on the distance from ordinary residence to the college attended.
The Deputy will be aware that the Programme for Government contains commitments to, among other things, review SUSI eligibility criteria, adjacency rates and postgraduate grant supports. On foot of these commitments I gave approval to commence a review of the Student Grant Scheme. It anticipated that the review will be completed later this year and will inform future considerations regarding the development of student grant policy.