A Laois TD has called on the government to change the means test which judges whether an applicant is eligible or not for a SUSI grant.
Sinn Fein’s Brian Stanley says that rising inflation means parents may really struggle to get their children to 3rd level education without financial assistance.
He said: ” Lots of parents and students in rural counties like Laois /Offaly are facing huge challenges to cover the cost of college fees and student accommodation for the forthcoming academic year in September.
“The means assessment for qualification for SUSI grants needs to be changed as it is currently based on gross income and not take home pay.
“Also, no allowances are made for essential outgoings such as mortgage repayments and unavoidable travel costs to work etc, unlike the assessment for medical cards.
“The cost on the family of students in 3rd level has increased year on year and in the context of the current cycle of rapid inflation and rent increases, many families may find it impossible to send their children to 3rd level education.
“Students from low and middle income households and those in rural areas may face barriers.
“Government needs to use the forthcoming budget to address this and use the opportunity to change the means assessments.”
Deputy Stanley was speaking after the government moved the threshold for how much students can earn – something he welcomed.
Deputy Stanley said: “Under the terms of SUSI, students can now earn an extra €2000 each year without affecting their qualification for the grant.
“The income disregard is now €6,500. I raised this issue with Simon Harris a number of times, most recently in May 2022 and I welcome this change.”