'Radical' changes to SUSI grant scheme needed demands Laois Fianna Fáil TD

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

coronavirus covid-19 SUSI

Many families will have to apply for the student grants

Sweeping changes are needed to the SUSI student grant scheme to ensure families hit by the Covid-19 fall-out are not hurt further when it comes to college fees, according to Fianna Fáil TD for Laois-Offaly Seán Fleming.

Dep Fleming called for an update of the SUSI, third-level education grant application process, in light of the radically changed financial position of many students and their families as a result of the ongoing public health crisis.

“The opening of the SUSI application process this week is another worrying reminder that the consequences of COVID-19 are likely to be with us for months to come.

“Many SUSI applicants will qualify for a grant on the basis of their household earning in previous years. While this would normally broadly reflect the financial situation of a family in the current year, COVID-19 has radically changed that position for many families.

“More than half a million people were receiving some form of social welfare income support by the end of March and it is highly likely that many households which are currently experiencing sudden financial hardship may not qualify for the SUSI grant in the coming year,” he said.

Deputy Fleming is calling on the Minister for Education to urgently amend the process with a view to ensuring the hardship now endured by hundreds of thousands of households is recognised as part of the current application process.

“While there is currently a mechanism in place to deal with a change of circumstances this process has always been slow, difficult and cumbersome, resulting in long delays.

“This system needs to be radically updated so that the current financial situation of families can be assessed immediately without excessive bureaucracy delaying the process,” he concluded.

SUSI has already said it expects a busy year. Some 90,000 applied for support last year.