A NEW online system for third-level students to deal with grants should mean an end to long waits for students to receive payments, according to local TDs John Paul Phelan (Fine Gael) and Ann Phelan (Labour).
The new Department of Education and Science system – Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) – will replace the existing system, whereby students apply to their individual local authority for supports with a centralised application system. Prior to now, students heading to third level or on their courses had to apply to one of 66 local authorities and VECs for grants.
“The system was prone to regular delays and many students were well into their courses in many instances before their payment came through,” said Deputy [John Paul] Phelan.
“It was very much a lottery for students as some local authorities were speedier in processing applications than others.
An estimated 40 per cent of all third-level students receive grants. The Fine Gael TD said that the new system will accept all new grant applications and will give out payments to students starting college in the coming academic year or those beginning new courses on a monthly basis.
“Like any system, this one will most likely suffer some teething difficulties,” he said.
“I know that students are not yet finished their Leaving Certificate exams and others are still toying with the idea of returning to education. I would urge both groups to make their application as soon as possible.”
Deputy Phelan said he hoped that the waiting game would now be over and that the undue hardship suffered by students as a result of past delays would be a thing of the past.
SUSI is run by the City of Dublin VEC, which was chosen to run the grant scheme through an independent selection process, and will replace the old system with a centralised online system
Labour Party TD Ann Phelan has also welcomed the new system, and is encouraging those who hope to start college in the Autumn to apply online as soon as they can through www.studentfinance.ie.
“The process is quick and easy and you do not have to have finally decided on your college course before applying – and you will be informed of the outcome of your application much quicker as well,” she said.