FG highlights student grant delays

 

Over 2,500 students have not had their grant applications processed half way through the college year according to updated figures released by the Department of Education.

Earlier Fine Gael released a statement indicating that over 8,000 students had not had their maintenance grant applications processed by the first week in January.

Fine Gael spokesman for education and science, Brian Hayes said that, up until January 8th 2010, that over 13 per cent of grant applicants, had not yet had their application processed, according to figures from the Department of Education provided to Mr Hayes in a parliamentary question.

Up until that date processing of maintenance grants had not commenced in relation to 8,221 student applications. However, the department have since clarified that, as of today, 2,572 applications remain to be processed.

“The fact that students can go so long without their application being processed is a farce,” Mr Hayes said.

"Many, if not all, cannot afford to wait so long to get the grant and some have already dropped out due to inability to pay rent, buy books and finance, at even a basic level, and the general cost of staying in college."

He said that the “bureaucratic mess” at the heart of the problem was that grants are processed by both VECs and local authorities and that this system is “clearly not working”.

Union of Students in Ireland (USI) president Peter Mannion said that it was unjust that so many students remained in “no man’s land” when it came to their grant situation.

“We are now in February and there are still students who have not yet been notified if they are to receive a grant,” he said.

While he said that late grants are not a new thing he also noted that many students could not turn to their parents for help because many of them are facing financial difficulties themselves.

“It’s a major issue, especially when you consider the fact that part time work is very hard to find,” Mr Mannion said.

He said that the public sector moratorium as well as a 13 per cent increase in the number of people applying for grants had had a major impact on the processing of student grants, creating a backlog in the grants process.