Rising costs mean mid to low income families may find it impossible to send their children to third level education, a Laois TD has said.
Recent changes to the SUSI grants do not go far enough as many third level students in rural areas in Laois and Offaly face huge financial challenges, Laois TD Brian Stanley has claimed.
Welcoming the recent increase to the summer earning threshold, Deputy Stanley said the means assessment for the SUSI(Student Universal Support Ireland) third level grant must change to net take home pay and not gross earnings.
“Under the terms of SUSI, students can now earn an extra €2,000 each year without affecting their qualification for the grant. The income disregard is now €6,500. I raised this issue with Simon Harris a number of times, most recently in May 2022 and I welcome this change,” he said.
“However, lots of parents and students in rural counties like Laois/Offaly are facing huge challenges to cover the cost of college fees and student accommodation for the forthcoming academic year in September,” he continued.
According to Deputy Stanley, “the means assessment for qualification for SUSI grants needs to be changed as it is currently based on gross income and not take home pay. Also, no allowances are made for essential outgoings such as mortgage repayments and unavoidable travel costs to work etc, unlike the assessment for medical cards.”
He said: “The cost on the family of students in third level has increased year on year and in the context of the current cycle of rapid inflation and rent increases, many families may find it impossible to send their children to third level education. Students from low and middle income households and those in rural areas may face barriers.”
Deputy Stanley said the “government needs to use the forthcoming budget to address this and use the opportunity to change the means assessments.”
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