Going to College: SUSI has opened and now is the time to start the application process
Applications for the SUSI grant opened last Thursday - this may have gone unnoticed by some as it occurred over the Easter holidays. As we enter this final and extremely short school term, applying for the SUSI grant should be high on the list of priorities of any prospective higher or further education student who thinks they may be eligible.
The grant is means tested, so second-level students should enlist the assistance of a parent when preparing their application. It is also available to those returning to education.
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Applicants will be assessed as either dependent or independent. Their status will be determined by their age and whether or not they were living with their parents last October.
SUSI support is broken into two parts. There is a maintenance grant to assist with day-to-day costs, which is paid over nine months into the recipient's bank account. The amount awarded depends on the household income, and the distance one will have to travel to the college. In addition, applicants attending higher education, for example on a CAO course, may be awarded a fees grant, which is a contribution to the course fees and is paid directly to the college.
Students attending further education receive a maintenance grant only.
Students studying at undergraduate level in the EU may be eligible for a maintenance grant, but will not be eligible for a fees grant.
Anyone considering attending further or higher education this year, who thinks they may be eligible for SUSI, should begin the application process as soon as possible, even if they have not yet decided if they will definitely attend. The first step is to log on to susi.ie , which has all the relevant information on income thresholds. Potential applicants can then use the SUSI eligibility reckoner to see if they are likely to qualify for support.
Grant applications will be assessed on the basis of nationality, residency, previous education and income. Applicants should be EU/EEA, Swiss and resident in Ireland for three of the last five years to be fully eligible. If an applicant does not meet these criteria, they may still be eligible for some funding, but should see the nationalities section of susi.ie for more details. Applicants must be entering an approved course.
Anyone interested should register with SUSI, where they will be asked to create an account which will be protected by a password and pin.
Next week, this column will look at the application form itself in more detail.
Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin