College Choice: Am I entitled to a grant for college fees?
Up to 40% of new students are entitled to grants to help cushion college costs
Susi provides means-tested grants for further education, higher education, postgraduate studies
With the rising cost of accommodation such a decisive factor in a student’s ability to take up a college course, securing financial support through the State’s grants agency Susi (Student Universal Support Ireland) can be crucial in deciding whether to accept a place in college this year.
The good news for many students is that Susi is making college attainable for a growing proportion of students. The agency provides financial assistance to eligible students in the form of maintenance grants or fees.
It opened its online application system for the 2018/19 academic year in April and has received 90,000 applications to date, awarding about 60,000 student grants.
The agency is advising anyone who has yet to make an application to do so without further delay. Students can apply online without having accepted a course and can simply put their first choice course on their application.
What kind of grants are on offer?
Susi provides means-tested grants for further education, higher education, postgraduate studies and also, in some cases, to students who wish to study outside of the State. The income thresholds are set out in detail on Susi’s website (susi.ie).
Eligible students attending further education or Post Leaving Cert (PLC) courses receive a maintenance grant, the value of which is determined by the level of household income for the previous year and the distance that the student travels from home to college (more or less than 45km).
These maintenance grants can range from €305 to €5,915, depending on your circumstances.
Students attending higher education, as well as receiving the maintenance grant, may also have their student contribution of €3,000 covered.
For mature students going back to study, those in receipt of a “back to education” allowance from the Department of Social Protection are not eligible for a Susi maintenance grant. However, if they are attending higher education, they may be eligible for the fee/student contribution portion of the grant, so it is worth applying.
What about students who wish to study outside Ireland?
Students attending certain courses in approved institutions outside the State, at undergraduate level only, can receive a maintenance grant from Susi. There is no funding available towards fees.
Following the first round of CAO offers last Monday, Susi has received many queries from students who are going to do different courses to the ones that they stated in their original Susi applications. A spokeswoman for Susi said if an applicant opted in on their application to allow the CAO to share information with Susi, they do not need to do anything.
“Once a student is offered a course, if they have ticked to share their details with Susi on the CAO and subsequently accept a CAO offer, then they do not need to take further action as Susi will automatically be informed that they have accepted a course,” she said.
If a student did not opt to allow the CAO to share their details with Susi, or if they have instead accepted a place on a PLC course when their original award was for an undergraduate course, then they must complete a “final course acceptance” by logging into their Susi account. Once the course is eligible, the student will get a revised award letter with details of their accepted course.
Payments of grants for 2018/19
The first maintenance payment dates for grants for higher education will be paid on September 21st; and for further education, on October 19th. Students must be confirmed to Susi by their institution as having registered before they can receive any payments.
In addition, they must ensure they have inputted their bank details on their online Susi account. Maintenance payments are then paid in nine monthly instalments directly into the student’s bank account while the student contribution is paid directly to the institution.
Is it too late to apply for financial support from Susi?
No, while the priority closing date has passed, the system remains open until early November.
Tomorrow: Supporting students with disabilities in college.