More than two in five undergraduate students and many others, including students attending post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses, receive a third-level grant. The grant is a means-tested payment designed to support student in higher or further education.
As outlined in this column last week, SUSI has opened for applications for the 2017/18 academic year, and the advice is to apply early. Although it might take some time to collect all the required information, application is a straightforward process. Even so, there are always questions, and here are some of the most common asked by my students.
Why is it important to apply early?
It is essential to submit your application as early as possible for a number of reasons. Firstly, SUSI processes applications in the order 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 when you need them, 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 reduce the stress of preparing and saving for college over the summer.
Can I wait until I receive my offer to apply?
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. When completing the CAO form, all applicants were asked if they intended to apply for a SUSI grant. Hopefully, anyone considering applying for the grant indicated this on their CAO. This allows SUSI to receive the applicant's offer and acceptance information electronically from the CAO, and that helps to speed up the grant payment process. However, even if you did not do this, you can still apply to SUSI.
How do I know what information I need to complete my application?
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 as well as 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.
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 the applicant will need to forward to SUSI.
Applicants should forward these documents when they have collected them all, and as soon as possible.
SUSI advises 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
Open Day - Blackrock FE Institute
Open Evening - Bronwyn Conroy Beauty School
Open Day/Interview Day - Killester College of FE
Open Night - Bray Institute of FE
Careers fair for students with disabilities (Ahead) 10am-2pm - Citi, North Wall Quay
Mature Student Open Day - Colaiste Stiofan Naofa CFE
Open Day - Bronwyn Conroy Beauty School
Further Education & Training Fair - Kerry ETB
Second Round Interviews - St John's Central College, Cork
Mature Student Open Day - St John's Central College, Cork
Q. I have received my statement of courses from the CAO and it says to check that all my exemptions are in order. How do I know if they are correct?
A. There is limited information here so I cannot be completely certain about your situation. However, a number of my students came to me this week with similar questions so I will explain what has happened in their situation and perhaps it may help you.
One student was concerned that her exemption from Irish was not listed on her CAO statement. We realised that she had not sent the NUI exemption form to the NUI head office in Merrion Square, Dublin.
A student who feels entitled to an exemption from Irish or a foreign language must make an application to each university for which they apply that requires Irish or a foreign language for entry. This form can be downloaded from the NUI, Trinity College or University of Limerick websites. One form should be sent to the NUI office for the four NUI colleges, and to TCD and UL individually if applying for those colleges. They must be completed and returned as soon as possible. If applicants are doing this for the first time at this stage of the year, I would advise that they send an email to the CAO after their forms have been submitted to confirm the CAO has received all this information. Another student had submitted the exemption form to the NUI but her exemption had not been listed. This student had not applied, as yet, for any NUI courses and none of the courses that had been listed on the CAO required Irish for entry.
If neither of these is applicable to your situation, contact the CAO.