Carlow-Kilkenny Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness has said that it is “hugely unfair that a large number of leaving certificate students and their families in Kilkenny continue to face huge uncertainty over changes to third level grants only a few days before they are expected to make a decision on college offers.”
Deputy McGuinness said: “On Monday leaving cert students will receive their first round of CAO offers. Students from farming and self-employed families in Kilkenny will be expected to make a decision on whether to accept a college place despite not knowing if they will qualify for grants for the duration of their time in college due to the continuing uncertainty over Minister Quinn’s planned changes to the third level grants system.
“Minister Quinn’s agenda in this regard was made quite clear again this week when figures were released by the HEA showing that 40% of farmers and close to 50% of self employed people secured a college grant for their children. However, what is not mentioned in these figures is that the average farm income continues to be €24,000.
“Minister Quinn’s plan to include capital assets in means testing for grants is wrong. If he proceeds with this it is another attack on farm families and small business owners in Kilkenny and across the country who want the opportunity for their son or daughter to go to college. The true test of whether someone is eligible for a grant has to be their income not their assets. Students can’t be expected to make a decision on a college offer when they have no idea if they will qualify for a grant and be able to afford to complete their third level qualification,” he added.
“Minister Quinn has already put postgraduate education out of reach for thousands of people from don’t have the financial means to pay for it. Unfortunately, we now face a situation where a large number of young people will also be denied access to undergraduate education. With college offers due on Monday, Minister Quinn needs to immediately make clear what his intentions are in regard to third level grants. At an absolute minimum, the Minister needs to give an assurance in the next few days to this year’s leaving cert students now awaiting CAO offers that they will not be facing into a situation whereby they could lose a grant which is essential to maintaining them in education after just one year at third level,” said Mr McGuinness.