Third-level grants system is inadequate

 

Sir, – Peter is a bright lad from Kerry. His heart is set on studying veterinary medicine in UCD, but he didn’t list that course on his CAO application form. Peter’s family can’t come up with €14,000 per annum to cover Peter’s college costs. His parents earn a combined gross annual income of €40,000, which makes Peter ineligible for a college grant. There are many courses that students like Peter would love to apply for. That option is becoming more difficult due to spiralling costs and an inadequate third-level grants system.

The cost-of-living guide published last week by Technological University Dublin (TUD) reaffirms that third-level costs are prohibitive for many students. The maximum standard maintenance grant is only €3,025. In addition, means-testing of grant applications is so restrictive so that thousands of students are ineligible for any financial aid.

Capping the gross annual income level for grant eligibility at €39,875 ignores spiralling college costs, increasing again this year by 13.5 per cent.

If the Government is serious about easing the financial burden on hard-pressed families, it must abolish the €3,000 student fee contribution. It must increase the standard maintenance grant from €3,025 to €50,00 and all other grants pro rata. It must increase the annual income level for standard grant eligibility to €50,000 from the current €39,875. Otherwise, Peter can only dream about what might have been in a career with “all creatures great and small”. – Yours, etc,

BILLY RYLE,

Tralee,

Co Kerry.