MORE than one-in-three of the students expecting a maintenance grant this year has not yet received their first payment.
SUSI, the new centralised grant-awarding system, has been mired in controversy since it was introduced last year.
Delays associated with SUSI have been blamed for severe hardship among students this year and, in some cases, college drop-out.
The grants chaos was a major factor in the move by Education Minister Ruairi Quinn to give an additional €3m to the student hardship fund in colleges, bringing the figure up to €11m, although student leaders say it is not enough.
Latest figures show that 19,743 SUSI applicants had received their first maintenance payment by yesterday, up about 4,000 since the start of January.
Based on trends in previous years, that is less than two-thirds of the over 30,000 applicants who would be expected to receive a grant.
Overall, 29,950 grants have been approved, but in some cases, SUSI is awaiting bank details or confirmation of course acceptance from students before making the payment.
SUSI received about 67,800 applications in total, 46,681 of which have now been fully processed, including 16,731 that have been refused or cancelled.
A SUSI spokesperson said last night that excluding those who had not submitted supporting documentation, 80pc of applications were fully processed, 1.5pc are being processed and, in 18.5pc of cases, documentation is awaited.