Married student’s grant assessed on parents’ pay

A married woman has been told her college grant application has to be assessed on the income of her parents who she no longer lives with.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has said he will examine difficulties like this being caused for some students, and the level of proof needed from students who are estranged from their parents to be assessed independently, after hearing of two cases in the Dáil.

Sinn Féin education spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien referred to a woman who is aged under 23 and lives with her spouse.

“She is being assessed on the basis of her parents’ income because she was living with them on October 1 [the year before she started college] even though she is now living separately from them with her spouse. They have their own income stream,” he said.

He said problems are also created for under-23s who are estranged from their families by the level of proof required from grant-awarding body Student Universal Support Ireland (Susi).

“I know of a student who has provided Susi with letters from her local general practitioner, from the counselling services within her college and from other government departments stating that she is estranged from her parents. I am trying to understand why Susi has responded to this case as it has,” Mr O’Brien said.

Susi told the Irish Examiner that letters and reports from gardaí, social workers, the HSE or court orders are the standard form of evidence required, depending on the individual circumstances of a case and in the absence of any other forms of evidence indicating estrangement.

A spokesperson said 290 out of 707 applicants for this college year who indicated they were estranged were refused or had applications cancelled, but issues like income or ineligible courses were reasons as well as failing to prove estrangement. Of 33 cases appealed, 17 were successful.

Mr O’Brien suggested widening the burden of proof. The minister said he would examine the cases and the general principles involved. “If the deputy is suggesting we should revisit the definition of estrangement in the case of a person under the age of 23, with reference to the level of proof and evidence that should be supplied to Susi, I will have a look at that.”

The statutory instrument governing grant schemes operated by Susi say all applicants under 23, regardless of marital status, are classed as dependent students and assessed on their own income and that of their parents or guardians. Susi said an applicant may be exempted from having their parents’ income taken into account where it is established that the applicant is irreconcilably estranged from both parents and neither parent financially supports them.


Related Articles

More in this Section

No Government jet for freed Halawa

Garda officers may sue for right to strike

Rail unions vote for industrial action

‘We are on our knees after this ... we need help’


Breaking Stories

No 'budget bounce' as Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil slip in opinion polls

The Lotto results are in

Here's the weather outlook following Storm Brian

Two men held on suspicion of murder after woman found dead in Belfast

Lifestyle

A helicopter put a piano on the 150-foot roof of Blarney Castle and other stories from the Cork Jazz Festival archives

Jazz Memories: Famous faces share their favourite moments

Live music review: The Horrors - Icy genius in a thrillingly intimate setting

New book revisits the games they just don't make anymore

More From The Irish Examiner