Nearly seventy five per cent of student grants have already been approved this year, compared to ten per cent at the end of October last year, according to SUSI.
The grant body has approved 43,000 applications so far and has estimated that it will give the green light to 60,000 in total.
Of the applications that have been approved, 39,000 have been paid already, with the remaining 4,000 to be paid as soon as SUSI receives bank details and proof of acceptance from applicants’ respective colleges.
These figures show a vast improvement from this time last year, when only 6,000 grants had been awarded.
SUSI, which is now in its second year of operation, received a great deal of criticism as a result of the delay in paying grants last year.
This time around SUSI set a three month deadline to approve all eligible applications submitted before 5 August and the body says that deadline has been met. It is now focused on processing the late applications that came after 5 August.
SUSI was introduced in order to organise student payments, which previously came from various sources, including county councils and VECs. Responsibility for dealing with these grants was transferred from these bodies to SUSI last year, but the organisation experienced growing pains.
The delay in awarding grants last year caused some students to go hungry, prompting students’ unions to hand out food packages and set up soup kitchens for those unable to afford food. In more severe cases, students were forced to drop out of college due to a lack of funds.
A spokesperson for SUSI said today that improvements made to its system have resulted in it running “more efficiently and on schedule” this year.
Eoin Lúc Ó Ceallaigh