Squeeze on grants hits 800 students
UP to 800 second-year students have lost their college grant this year because income limits for eligibility have been reduced.
Students in other years will also be affected by the lower income thresholds, but the figures are not yet available.
The harsh news for returning second years emerged as the centralised grant awarding body Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI), announ- ced that the processing of applications was on target for 2013/14.
The commitment to regular updates is one of the measures introduced by SUSI after last year's debacle of delays and errors in the SUSI grant processing system.
Meanwhile, so far 45,405 CAO applicants have snapped up a college place following the second round of offers last week.
The acceptance figure is 51 less than the same time last year.
SUSI has refused a total of 798 renewal applications, predominantly from second-years.
A 3pc reduction in the income thresholds used when calculating entitlement to student grants in 2013 was announced in the Budget last December.
As a result, the threshold for the maximum standard rate of grant was cut from €41,110 to €39,875, to save the Exchequer €2m this year, rising to €5m in a full year.
The Department of Education predicted that about 8pc of the total estimated 80,000 grant recipients – a total of 640 – would be affected by the measure. But it looks like the figure could be much higher.
While grant levels vary according to income and distance from college, the standard grant is €3,025; while recipients also have some or all of the €2,500 student contribution charge paid on their behalf.
According to SUSI, processing of applications for the new academic year is on target. It has completed the initial assessment on 61,477 applications from first-time students on schedule.