More than 3,000 students are still waiting for their grant application to be processed by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI).
With less than three months left before the end of the academic year, the centralised student grant authority has not completely worked through the backlog of grant applications.
DCU SU president Paul Doherty told the College View: “In comparison with other institutions, DCU has been relatively lucky. Numbers [of people waiting for their grant to be processed] before Christmas were pretty low but I am unaware of current numbers. Very few students have come to the SU with regards to SUSI which would be due to the low numbers.”
SUSI awarded grants to 34,664 grants so far. 79 % of them applied for a maintenance grant while 21% applied for their fees to be covered. But 2,037 students who were successful in securing a grant have not received their payment yet because they have not given their banking details.
Speaking to The College View, SUSI Communications Officer John Conroy said: “The SUSI support desk is engaged in an extensive outbound telephone campaign reminding successful applicants awarded in the previous weeks to enter their banking details online in order to be paid their awards.”
3,125 students do not know if they will be awarded a grant. “These applications require the applicant to provide either final information or documents for the application to proceed to final decision, or to confirm that they are not proceeding with their application”, Mr Conroy said.
In order to avoid similar backlogs next year, SUSI is planning to create an online renewal system for existing applicants wishing to apply for a grant in the next academic year. New questions will also be added to the application process while the application assessment system will be developed to improve award decisions.
“Direct links to General Registration Office, State Examinations Board, The Revenue Commissioners, the CAO will reduce the document requirements and discussions are ongoing at this time with the Department of Social Protection to provide a similar service”, Mr Conroy explained.
This year SUSI received over 69,000 applications, a quarter more than during the previous academic year when local grant authorities had received about 55,000 applications.
Last January, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn increased the Student Assistance Fund by €3 million to €11 million to provide financial assistance to students waiting for their grant application to be processed.