Students need fairer grants system

 

Sir, – The priority closing date for 2020 college grant applications is this Thursday (July 9th). The Student Universal Support Ireland service assesses gross family income from all sources in the previous calendar year, 2019, to determine student grant eligibility.

Because of Covid-19, many families will earn much less income in 2020 than in 2019. Therefore, assessing grant eligibility on last year’s income could deprive many deserving applicants of a college grant. All 2020 grant applications should be assessed against the current financial hardship caused by Covid-19.

Students who are ineligible for grants need about €12,000 annually to maintain themselves. These students must also pay an annual student contribution of €3,000.

Many college students have to do up to 15 hours of part-time work weekly or depend on their parents to make ends meet. Part-time work and parental financial support won’t be as readily available this year as the country is reeling from the economic havoc wreaked by Covid-19.

The Government must show compassion by easing the financial burden on hard-pressed families. It must waive the unjustifiable €3,000 student fee contribution as many families are struggling financially. The standard rate maintenance grant must be increased from €3,025 to €5,000 and all other grants on a pro rata basis. The annual income level for standard rate grant eligibility must be calculated on the 2020 reduced family income rather than the 2019 income. Covid-19 must not be allowed to deny young people their right to further and higher education. They have lost out on more than enough already this year. – Yours, etc,

BILLY RYLE,

Tralee,

Co Kerry.