It’s not too late to apply for financial assistance for college, but you should apply as soon as possible — and you don’t need to have decided on a course.
If you are about to embark on your undergraduate degree, further education, or a Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) course, you might be eligible for a maintenance grant for day-to-day costs.
84,000 people have applied for third-level financial assistance through Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI), which administers maintenance grants centrally.
99,000 applications are expected for the upcoming academic year, and 85% of these applications have been received by SUSI so far. SUSI provides funding for two types of grants: the fees grant and the maintenance grant.
The fees grant covers the student’s fees and is paid directly to the educational institution. It can include tuition fees, the student contribution charge, and compulsory field expenses.
The maintenance grant — which covers a student’s day-to-day living expenses and is paid directly to students in nine monthly installments — is calculated at two rates: adjacent and non-adjacent.
All students, including mature students, who live 45 kilometres or less from the college they attend, qualify for the adjacent rate, while the non-adjacent rate applies to everyone else.
Students qualify for grants, or their grants are calculated, based on whether they are dependent or independent, and on their household income. The SUSI website’s online calculator will show you if you qualify for a grant.
When you are applying to SUSI, have your household income for last year and the relevant PPS numbers, but apply as soon as possible, says SUSI communications officer, Aoife Greene.
“At SUSI, we advise that all students submit their application as soon as possible to assist in its timely processing,” Aoife said.
“We would also encourage all students who apply to ensure prompt submission of any documents that SUSI may request, as this will assist in timely processing of their applications.”
“Students need to make sure the bank account details they give us are correct and up-to-date, as this may delay payment of a maintenance grant that has been awarded.”
Priority is given to those who applied before July 11 and who were not already in receipt of assistance from SUSI during the last college year.
The July 11 deadline encourages as many people as possible to get their applications in, and processed, before the college term begins. But, if you submit your application now, you could still be in line to receive a payment come college time.
We can only speak about your application with you unless you give us consent for someone to speak on your behalf. You can update your data privacy settings by ticking the boxes in the ‘My Details’ tab of your online account’☑️ pic.twitter.com/0dNOYROhLQ— @susihelpdesk (@Susihelpdesk) July 23, 2019
Once you have submitted your student grant application, you can use SUSI’s online application tracker to get the most up-to-date information and confirm that your supporting documentation has been received.
If a student ticked the SUSI box on their CAO application, the CAO will let SUSI know which course they have selected. All other students must inform SUSI directly when they have accepted a course. You can do this through the My Course section in your SUSI account.
Payment of approved maintenance grants will not issue until after SUSI receives confirmation from a college that a student has formally registered on an approved course.
For those with a SUSI grant for a further education/post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) course, first payments will be made from October 19.
Successful higher education grant applicants will commence receiving their monthly payments from September 21 — depending on how early an application has been made and processed, and upon confirmation of college registration.
The SUSI online application form will remain open until October 31. Applications after that date are processed under certain circumstances, which are listed on the SUSI website.
How the value of the SUSI grant is calculated
There are a few different factors that contribute towards calculating the amount of financial support a student receives, particularly your household income and the distance you live from your college.
For the upcoming academic year, each application to SUSI will be assessed on the gross income of the applicant’s household from all sources between January 1 2018 to December 31, 2018.
Whose income is taken into acount depends on if an applicant is classed as dependent or independent; if you’re a dependent, your own income and that of your parents or legal guardians will be assessed.
If you are classed as an independent student, then you will be assessed on your own income and that of your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant.
To qualify for the highest level of support from SUSI, the special rate grant, last year’s household income should be under €24,000, a threshold which has been increased by €500 this year, and by €1,000 since 2017.
Where the student is eligible for the non-adjacent payment, they will receive maintenance of €5,915 in nine monthly instalments and have their €3,000 student contribution covered by SUSI. Otherwise, they will receive €2,375.
For students that are eligible for the non-adjacent rate, they will receive a maintenance grant of €3,025, again paid in nine monthly instalments, and have their €3,000 student contribution covered by SUSI. Otherwise, they will receive €1,215.
The lowest level of support is the payment of half the third-level student contribution, payable if household income was between €49,840 and €54,240 for a family of less than four dependent children.
The rate of grants are the same whether an applicant will be attending an undergraduate course, or a post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) further education course.
The income thresholds are the same for those attending undergraduate or PLC courses but those attending PLC courses will only be eligible for the maintenance grant.
This means that the payment or part payment of the €3,000 undergraduate student contribution does not apply for those on a PLC course.