The student grant scheme must be modified to take account of the reduced incomes caused by the Covid-19 outbreak according to Sinn Féin TD for Laois /Offaly Brian Stanley has said clarity is needed.
Deputy Stanley called on the Minister for Education Joe McHugh to clarify what income levels an application will be based on for the coming academic year.
“The Minister for Education needs to clarify the eligibility criteria for SUSI grant applications for those whose incomes have been affected as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“The SUSI Grant Application process opened on April 23 however hundreds of thousands of workers have had their incomes reduced through no fault of their own as a result of the impact of Covid-19. Unfortunately, the assessment is based on their 2019 income.
“While we hope that the impact of this will be short-lived for these workers and families, it is clear that many will struggle with the financial burden of sending children to third-level in a few short months.
“However, it appears that the Department of Education has made no provision for these families as the SUSI grant application process opens up and it appears that the Department will make a determination on grant applications based on incomes earned in 2019; ignoring the new reality for thousands of families.
“The SUSI application process only allows for a change of circumstances to be taken into account where the change is 'permanent, or for the foreseeable future.
“I am calling on the Minister to clarify what arrangements are in place to support students from families that have seen a significant drop in income to meet the costs of third-level education for the new academic year.
“It is clear that the criteria applied in previous years is not fit for purpose and the Minister must take account of these realities to ensure that those who require financial support can access it.
“This is a particular problem in the Midlands where thousands of workers, such as those on Bord Na Mona and in the hospitality sector have either been laid off or placed on reduced income due to the current emergency," concluded the TD.