ST Vincent de Paul is giving a helping hand to students struggling because of the grants delay fiasco, it has emerged.
Charity workers had to come to the aid of one student who hadn't been eating and was living in a cold flat because she had no money.
Generous donations to the charity have now helped to stop the student dropping out of college over the grants problem.
The student at Letterkenny Institute of Technology had been living in 'dreadful' conditions and had gone hungry because of delays in the payment of her grant.
The St Vincent de Paul confirmed they found the student in a "distressed" state and were now helping her to stay on at the college.
"She hadn't eaten in 24 hours and had no heating and two of our volunteers went to talk to her," said SVP Letterkenny spokeswoman Rosa Glackin.
"Her grant had been held up and she hadn't any money. We were able to give her assistance so that she could remain at her course. It is a very sad reflection of how bad things have become for many people."
Ms Glackin said the charity had helped many students in recent weeks "but none as bad as this".
Many students were left with no income as a result of the slow handling of grant applications by the Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) system introduced this year.
Ms Glackin told the Irish Independent: "We have come across students surviving on just €7 per week.
"These are just the cases we know about and there may be more out there.
"There has been a 50pc increase in the number of students seeking help this year."
The charity volunteer said the situation had been made worse by increased taxes on lower and middle income workers.
"Many people earning low and even middle income wages whose children don't qualify for grants are being squeezed so badly they can't afford to keep them at college," said Ms Glackin.
"They are being pushed over the edge, facing higher taxes on just about everything."
She praised people in Co Donegal who had responded to an appeal to help students in the town – many from all over Ireland and abroad – to get over Christmas.
"We have been able to give food parcels to many people who would not have been able to stay at college without that support," said the charity worker.
"It is a very sad reflection of where we are at in this country right now."
This year, the Irish Independent has partnered the St Vincentde Paul charity in an appeal to our readers to give generouslyto those living in difficult circumstances. Your help is vital
1. Send a cheque to SVP, PO Box 1234, Dublin 1, made payable to Society of St. Vincent de Paul National Council.
2. Pay direct to Bank of Ireland, Phibsborough, Dublin 7 to St. Vincent De Paul Council of Ireland. A/C Number: 80005599. Sort Code: 90-06-23
3. Call the SVP National Office on 01 8386990
4. Text SVP to 57500 (Terms & Conditions apply)
5. If you prefer to give locally you can send cheques to a regional office. Addresses can be found on www.svp.ie