Aoife Walsh: Parents can do a lot now to help children with their SUSI application
As I wrote last week, SUSI, the centralised grants agency, opened for applications for the 2018/19 year earlier this month and now is the perfect time to begin the process. Any work completed on the form can be saved and applicants can return at a later date.
Parents can support their children's application by educating themselves on the process and gathering information on the family finances. That allows students to focus on Leaving Cert orals and practicals that are currently taking place all over the country.
The grant is a means-tested payment designed to support a student in higher or further education. Last week, this column outlined how to apply for this payment and here are responses to the most common questions my students ask about the grant.
It is essential to submit your application as early as possible for a number of reasons. Firstly, SUSI processes applications in the order in which they arrive, so by submitting the application as early as possible, you will receive your answer in good time.
Not only will this mean that any payments to which you are entitled will be available as early as possible, but applicants will know in advance of registration if they are to expect payments or fee support.
This will make the transition to third level a lot easier and will reduce the stress of preparing for college. All new applications should reach SUSI by July 12. Students should not wait until they receive a CAO offer to apply and should submit their application even if they are not certain they will accept their place. Hopefully, anyone considering applying for this grant indicated this on their CAO form. While it is not essential to have done this, it does help to speed up the process.
When beginning a SUSI application, applicants will be asked to create an account with their own login and password. Applicants will then be asked to submit information about their family circumstances, including income and social welfare payments.
Due to the nature of the information requested, it can be very helpful for applicants to complete these sections with the help of a parent/guardian.
There are some very helpful, step-by-step videos online, which all applicants should take some time to watch before starting their application.
If, at any stage, an applicant cannot answer a question or does not have the relevant information to hand, they can save their progress, log out and return at a later date.
SUSI will begin processing the application after it is submitted. Once all sections have been completed, the website will generate a personalised list of any documents that will need to be forwarded to the agency.
Applicants should forward these documents when they have collected them all, and as soon as possible.
SUSI reminds students to check and double check all information, especially PPS numbers and dates of birth. These small mistakes can lead to unnecessary delays to payments.
Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin