Not too early to explore student grant options
Students considering their CAO options may also be concerned about how they might finance their third level study.
The most common support for students is the maintenance grant awarded by the centralised agency, SUSI, and the main criterion for eligibility is family income. About 40pc of college students are in receipt of the grant.
While it is still too early to apply for 2016, applicants and their parents may find it helpful to fill in the 'eligibility reckoner' on susi.ie. This allows potential applicants to enter personal information about their nationality, income, educational history, etc and gives an indication of whether or not they are likely to qualify.
The closing date for applications for the grant is August 1. It is important any student who decides to apply for a grant does so as early as possible to avoid any possible delays in payments.
Applicants will be assessed on gross income from all sources for the period January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015. They will be assessed as either a 'dependant' or 'independent' Applicant. A 'dependant' applicant is assessed on the income of the parents or legal guardian while an 'independent' applicant is assessed on their own income and that of their spouse/civil partner or cohabitant.
The income threshold which is applied to a household will differ depending on factors such as the number of children in the household, the number of those children currently attending college and type of courses the applicant intends to pursue, i.e. PLC or undergraduate degree.
Depending on income, the grant awarded may vary from 100pc maintenance and 100pc student contribution to no maintenance and 50pc student contribution. Last year the income thresholds varied from €22,703 to €64,285 (more than eight children with at least one attending third level).
If an applicant decides to apply for a grant they should do so on grantsonline.ie or susi.ie when the application process opens in spring/early summer.
It is useful to read the application form guide on susi.ie. Applicants will need to have their PPS number and, as they will be asked questions in relation to income and benefits, it may be helpful to have a parent present when completing the form.
Applicants can 'save' their progress and return later if they come across a question they cannot answer.
Once the online application is complete. susi.ie will notify applicants of any documentation they will be required to submit. Supplying the correct information and relevant documentation on time is essential. Once submitted applications can be tracked online.