1030 people applied for financial aid from the Student Assistance Fund in DCU this semester, according to Student Support and Development (SDD).
This number is expected to increase when applications reopen in second semester. Last year the fund received 1409 applications. 60 per cent of those applicants received funding, 23 per cent were declined with the remaining applications cancelled due to lack of supporting documents.
An online application system was put into place last year which made receipting all applications redundant.
“The reason for the presentation of receipts was for audit purposes from the EU and HEA,” Deirdre Moloney, Senior Student Support Officer for DCU SSD said, “in recent years the HEI’s questioned this request due to the huge administrative burden and the fact that receipts had to be filed for 13 years in case of an EU audit”.
However, last year around 10 per cent of applicants were asked to provide receipts. Moloney explained this process will be continued to ensure transparency in the fund.
The online system allows students to fully complete their form online by attaching required documents to their digital application.
Moloney believes this system is not only more efficient for administrative staff, but also benefits the applicants as it allows them to receive funding faster.
“The online system is much better because we are now dealing with students from St. Pats, Mater Dei and CICE and also across three campuses,” Moloney said, “in 2008 we had approx 200 applications and in 2016 we have 1,000+ so we have to adapt to the increase in numbers.”
In past years the average amount successful applicants receive from the fund is a once off payment of €500 for students who are living away from home, and €300 for those at home.
“We expect these figures to increase slightly this year as numbers applying have remained steady and there has been a slight increase in funding,” Moloney said.