ONE PARENT of a first year student from Laois who is affected by the late payment of grant assistance this year, says he can’t sleep at night worrying about his daughter, who is trying to live on just €4 a day for food.
“She is going through a horrendous time, and so are a lot of her classmates. They can’t even do sports because they don’t even have the energy. The kids are in an awful state, its the talk of their day,” he said.
A single parent, he has already spent over €2,000, which is all of his savings, on rent for his daughter. He is now behind on his own mortgage and loan payments, so getting a loan until the grant comes through is not an option he says.
“I get €220 pension a week and €200 of that is going to her. That gives me €20, I have gone without cooking gas. I am so proud of my daughter going to college, I brought her up on my own. She never took a penny off anyone she is a brilliant girl, she was in Meitheal and everything. To be treated like this, it’s a nightmare,” said her worried father.
His daughter who is attending a Dublin university, can only afford to come home once or twice a month. She doesn’t have a weekend job because they were told by the college that they preferred if she didn’t work, but concentrated on her study.
“Her friend is in a worse way, she is from Kerry and she can’t afford to go home at all,” he said.
The family applied for the student grant last August through the new online Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) grant system, which was taken out of the hands of local authorities and county councils this year, and is now handled centrally from the City of Dublin VEC, affecting every first year student in Ireland. So far only 5 per cent of students have received their first payment.
He was told the first installment would arrive mid-September.
“We did it online as soon as it was available, within the first or second day, we sent everything off, they asked for the same document three times. I paid €6.60 to send it by registered post and they said they hadn’t got it,” he said.
They have both tried in vain to get an answer on the SUSI helpline, using money they can ill afford on phone credit.
“My daughter got €5 credit, that’s a days food, then she had to get another. I tried loads of times to get through,” he said.
He is one of several parents who contacted Brian Stanley’s constituency office for help.
“I never went to a politician in my life, but we are in no-man’s land, this is unreal. This should be a great adventure starting out for my daughter, and look what has happened, this is a slap in the face she will remember for the rest of her life,” he said.