Students should get grants quicker than previous years this autumn, and should also have an extra payment before Christmas.
Student Universal Support Ireland (Susi) is making better progress than in 2014 with processing grant application. It had decided just under half of 97,500 applications received up to the end of last week, compared to less than a third at the same time last year.
It expects total applications to go up from 103,000 last year to 110,000, and to award around 5,000 more students than last year’s 75,000 figure. The improvements have been assisted by further changes to Susi’s systems, but also by opening for applications two weeks earlier, in late April.
The Central Applications Office (CAO) offered college places to over 52,000 people yesterday morning, and any of those who had applied to Susi will have their acceptance of an offer automatically notified to the grant-awarding body. This measure, in the case of those who authorised CAO to share their information when they applied to the admissions body earlier this year, should allow Susi confirm the provisional awarding of the applicable level of support to eligible applicants.
In order to help meet upfront costs like rental deposits, the Department of Education has also changed funding to Susi this year, which should mean four grant payments instead of the usual three during the first term.
“We expect to make our first payments this year on September 25, although these will only issue to those students who have been confirmed as registered by their colleges at that point,” said Susi communications manager Graham Doyle.
Because of varying start dates between colleges, and the need to have confirmation of registration the previous week, those qualified students may get their first payment instead in October. However, with the second official grant instalment due on October 16, those who did not get paid in the first tranche should get the equivalent of two months’ grants.
Susi also plans weekly pay runs in the interim to facilitate grant recipients approved from late September, with similar arrangements continuing to ensure students do not have to wait a full month after approval before receiving their initial grants or back payments.
Of 75,197 people supported in the last academic year by Susi, 57,819 received maintenance payments ranging from €305 to €5,915, as well as having their student contribution paid to their college for undergraduates. Higher education students from families with incomes between €45,790 and €54,240 can have half or all their €3,000 student contribution covered by Susi.
Postgraduate students with household earnings up to €31,500 can receive varying levels of assistance with tuition fees, but are not eligible for maintenance grants.
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