Going to College: If you haven't already applied to SUSI for a college grant, do it now
The Leaving Cert is just about over, but there is one more very important task for students to complete before heading off for a well-deserved break.
The priority closing date for new applications for the SUSI grant is July 12.
Quite often students do not apply for the grant early as they feel they may not go to college in the autumn, are unsure of where they will attend college or they simply let this task slide during the busy last term of school.
It is, however, essential to complete your application by this deadline in order to avoid any delays in payment come autumn.
SUSI has already received 31,000 new applications for the upcoming year, typically from Leaving Cert candidates, of which 9,544 have been approved to date. It means that almost 10,000 students starting in college in the autumn already have certainty about their grant and can look forward to the earliest possible payment.
If an applicant is in any way unsure as to whether or not they will qualify for this means-tested support, they can do a self assessment on the 'eligibility reckoner' on susi.ie. This tool asks a number of initial questions to assess the likelihood of qualifying.
Depending on individual circumstances, the level of grant awarded varies. There is a fees grant and a maintenance grant. Applicants may be awarded full fees or a portion of the fees. There is also a sliding scale for maintenance grants.
As eligibility criteria focus on the family finances, it is important that applicants enlist parental support when beginning their application. They will also need the PPS numbers and date of birth for all family members. Small mistakes in this information can cause frustrating delays in payment.
The grant is designed to support students in higher or further education.
Applicants will be required to indicate whether they are likely to attend higher education (for example a CAO course) or further education (a post-Leaving Cert course) when making their application.
Obviously, students will not receive their CAO offers until August and, therefore, at the time of application, they may not be sure where they will attend, but they should indicate where they hope to attend. If this changes at a later date, that's okay. If CAO applicants ticked the box indicating their intention to apply for a SUSI grant when completing their CAO application, then after the offers are made, SUSI will be informed of their offer and acceptance.
There are some very helpful videos on susi.ie which all applicants should take 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 once it is submitted.
When all sections have been completed, the website will generate a list of any documents that will need to be forwarded to SUSI. Applicants should forward these as soon as possible.
Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin