Decline in numbers applying for student grants

New applications for student grants are down more than 2,000 so far this year, figures from the awarding body reveal.

Of nearly 72,000 applications received by Student Universal Support Ireland (Susi) up to the start of the week, 34,050 are from new applicants who are mostly people who did the Leaving Certificate in June. That is down from 36,376 at the same stage a year ago, and from nearly 38,300 in 2016.

Susi is still working on the expectation of 60,500 new applications coming in this year, just 200 less than in 2017. But last year’s 60,694 new applicants were nearly 1,400 fewer than in 2016.

Susi received 37,723 applications up to a June 14 deadline for renewal of support given during the past college year. Some 1,200 claims for renewed Susi support were made by the end of June, but those received before the closing date get priority for processing.

Anyone planning to apply for the first time this year should do so by Thursday to avoid delays as those received by July 12 will be processed quicker.

Susi said around 70% of the 103,000 applications it expects to get for the coming college year have been lodged, with 62% finalised. “Applications appear to have slightly decreased in the past couple of years but we would not be in a position to definitively state the cause,” a spokesperson said.

While the drop may partly be a result of improved circumstances of students and their families, a factor could also be higher use of an eligibility reckoner on Susi’s website that allows prospective applicants check if they meet rqeuirements around income, residency and courses being taken.

Close to half of new applications had been finalised at the beginning of this week, with nearly 12,100 of those 15,500 claims being approved for support.

For third-level undergraduate courses, Susi pays some or all of the €3,000 student contribution to all qualifying applicants. For those whose household income is under €45,790, maintenance grants between €605 and €5,915 are paid, depending on income and distance from college, with higher income limits in place for larger homes or with more college students.

Susi said payments to third-level students should begin in the third week in September if bank details and college registration are confirmed. Payments to post-Leaving Certificate course students will be made from October.


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