Over 560 students in Kilkenny are still waiting for their grants – now fully six months into the academic year, it has been revealed.
Despite pre-Christmas reassurances from the Government, 41% of students’ grants in the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency have not yet been fully processed. The latest figures also show that only 35% of applications from the constituency have actually been paid to students.
The new student grant system, SUSI, was lauded by both Deputy John Paul Phelan (Fine Gael) and Deputy Ann Phelan (Labour) when it was introduced last summer. Heralded as “an end to long waits for students”, it has turned into a nightmare for the Government, and left many students in serious difficulty.
Carlow-Kilkenny TD John McGuinness has said he is appalled by the latest figures.
“The financial crisis facing students in Kilkenny and Carlow is continuing, six months after most of them started college and made their grant application,” he said.
“The Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn has consistently tried to downplay the scale of this crisis but the reality cannot be avoided. It is deeply frustrating that 986 applications from my constituency are still to be fully processed by the new centralised applications system SUSI.”
The Fianna Fail deputy also expressed concern over the rate at which students are being turned down for grants. Almost one in every four applications (24%) from Carlow and Kilkenny have been refused or cancelled.
“We have seen the government using the tactic of blaming students for the high level of unprocessed and ‘incomplete’ grant applications,” said Deputy McGuinness.
“Are we really expected to believe that students from lower income families in need of this financial support for college are the ones dragging their feet?
“I have spoken to a number of students and families who are experiencing enormous difficulties as a result of these unacceptable delays. It’s adding financial pressure to students which is impacting on their studies and their ability to stay on at third level.
“Fianna Fáil has continued to raise this issue with Minister Ruairí Quinn and we will be doing so again. These delays are simply not good enough and students deserve better.”