Education: Students on grants face losses of €1,700
MORE than 25,000 hard-pressed college students face average losses of €1,700 a year in grant payments from next September.
Those who are not on grants will have to pay increased registration charges of €500 bringing their annual fee to €2,000. Meanwhile all those on grants face a 4pc cut.
But more than one-in-three of those on grants face drastic cuts in their awards.
They include more than 18,000 who live between 24km and 45km from college, and 7,000 mature students.
At present, they qualify for what's called the non-adjacent maintenance awards, worth anything from €810 to €6,355 depending on family income.
These are given to students who live more than 15 miles (24km) from college. From next September that is being changed to 28 miles (45km).
The Government defended the decision saying that the original distance criterion was set in 1968, before significant improvement in transport facilities and road networks.
But Union of Students in Ireland (USI) President Gary Redmond said it would force many students to drop out of college. The change will save €43m in a full year.
The household income thresholds at which a student may become eligible for a grant/free fees remain unchanged, although a new category has been introduced
Next year, students in families with an income of between €55,920 and €66,700 may be eligible to have half their registration fees paid -- although they will not receive a grant.
The Budget also confirmed the introduction of a new €200 Post-Leaving Cert (PLC) charge from September.
The number of training places for the unemployed next year is being slashed by 15,000 to 100,000 to save €43m, or 15pc, of the FAS budget.
The budget for school buildings and other education infrastructure is being cut from €707m last year to €491m.