The student grant is the most common form of financial support for students going to college. There are two parts to the grant; a maintenance grant and a fee grant. A maintenance grant covers a portion of a student’s living costs and a fee grant can cover all or part of college tuition fees, all or part of the student contribution (a annual fee that covers student services and exams) and costs of essential field trips.
Grants are given on a means tested basis, meaning that household income for the previous year will be taken into account when a student is being assessed. If a student is eligible for a maintenance grant they will generally be eligible for a fee grant.
If you think that you qualify for a student grant then it’s best to apply as early as possible. Waiting until you have received your college offer could result in difficulties starting your course or a delay in receiving money. The application system opened on May 8th and runs until August 1st.
For the past two years, Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) have managed all first-time grant applications and some other categories. This year, they have launched a new website that is more user friendly, making it easier for students to apply.
When applying for a grant, you must state whether you are an independent or dependent applicant. An applicant who was living with their parents in October last year is considered dependent, regardless of what age they are. A dependent applicant is assessed on their parents’ income and their own. An independent applicant must be over 23 and not live with their parents. Independent applicants are assessed on their own income and, if relevant, their spouse or partner’s income.
Total income is assessed when testing for eligibility for a grant and income limits range between €22,703 and €54,240 for households with less than four dependents. The limits increase where there are more than four dependents in a household.
Once you have established what applicant you are, the next step is to log on to www.susi.ie and use the ‘online grant eligibility reckoner’, a tool that will ask you to answer questions and, based on your answers, let you know whether or not you should proceed with your application. Applications are then made through www.grantsonline.ie
When applying you will be asked for your PPS number and an email address and you will have to create a password. The username, email and password used for the application will be needed throughout the application process so it is important to have them kept somewhere safe where you can refer to them in the future.
Author: Fiona McBennett