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Do your homework on SUSI grant

The SUSI grant system got off to a terrible start in 2012 with mismanagement and delays abounding. It's now trying to write off €4m paid in error to 1,300 third level students that year, given it has no hope of getting it back from them.

In the meantime, it seems to have got its act together and is now working in a stream-lined way. The list for 2015/16 has just opened and students have until August to apply for their grant which covers tuition fees, living expenses, or both. The Tuition Fee grant is 50 or 100pc (max €3,000) while the maintenance grant covers 25, 50, 75 or 100pc depending on where you live in relation to college. The minimum is €305 while the maximum is €5,915.

Both depend on household income but the limits are quite generous in relation to other State benefits, so it's definitely worth applying. Although the maximum income for full tuition/maintenance is €22,703pa, students with parents earning up to €54,240pa can still qualify for something.

The SUSI website (www.susi.ie) is clunky, but check out www.studentfinance.ie or grantsonline.ie for information. Bear in mind, it's the student applying, not the parent, so all the details asked are about them. Questions are about residency, siblings in full-time education, course details and household income. For the self-employed, accounts for 2014 must be submitted with the application - earlier than Revenue require them.