I’m struggling to make ends meet. Will I be eligible for the new €500 student grant?

Thousands of additional students are likely to qualify for grants this year due to increases in eligibility thresholds

Before making an application for a grant, it is worth visiting Susi’s website (susi.ie) to complete their eligibility reckoner. Photograph: iStock

I’m going into my third year of college next September and am finding it difficult to make ends meet. I was ineligible for the student grant this year, but have since been told that changes have been introduced for the new 2023/24 academic year. Can you tell me if eligibility is being expanded? Might I be eligible?

The cost of going to college is considerable. While there are grants available, income thresholds for eligibility are quite low. However, they have been increased this year which means that thousands of additional students are likely to qualify.

I recommend going to the Susi website (susi.ie) where you will find an eligibility indicator. It is quick and simple to use.

So, what has changed? Firstly, grants are awarded based on household income – or gross income from all sources for the previous calendar year.

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You have probably heard about the €500 student contribution grant which has been introduced for undergraduate students. To be eligible, a student’s total household income must be no more than €100,000 if in a household with fewer than four dependent children. (This threshold climbs higher if there are more dependent children.)

There is a separate €1,500 student contribution grant. To be eligible for this, a student’s total household income must be no more than €62,000 (up from €55,240 last year) if in a household with fewer than four dependent children. (Again, this threshold climbs higher if there are more dependent children.)

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There is also a special rate of maintenance grant available. To avail of it, the student must be eligible for the ordinary rate of grant and their total household income for grant assessment purposes must fall below a specific threshold and include a long term social welfare payment.

For the coming academic year, this special rate income threshold is €25,000 (up from €24,500 last year) in a household with fewer than four dependent children.

Remember: if another person in the household is also attending a full-time further or higher education course, all income thresholds can increase further.

The amount a student can earn outside term time has also increased from €4,500 to €6,552. Known as “holiday earnings”, this is income earned from employment outside term time within the previous calendar year by an applicant who was in education.

To be eligible, you must be progressing in your education. However, mature students may be eligible for funding as a second-chance student. Previously to be considered a second-chance student, a five-year break in studies was required. This has now been reduced to three years.

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For postgraduate students, the postgraduate fee contribution will increase from €3,500 to €4,000 this year.

Student grant applications can be made online. Be sure to have all your details to hand before you begin the application including PPS number and income details. There is also a Susi support team that can any questions by phone, email or social media.