Additional funding, discounted transportation, and free contraception headline Budget 2022’s student impact

The government is committing an additional €200 million to the SUSI grant as part of a substantial investment in young people in the Budget 2022 announcement this morning. 

The additional funding is one item in a list of measures announced alongside the budget to help students.

The €200 million will go towards increased funds for those already on the grant and help facilitate payments to recipients who were originally ineligible. As part of the new chunk of funding, Minister for Education Simon Harris announced today that the income threshold to qualify for the grant will increase by €1,000, allowing more students access. 

Students commuting long distances to and from college will also benefit from the reduced minimum distance to qualify for a larger amount of money under the grant. Now students who live more than 30km away from college are eligible for a higher rate, with the threshold formerly being at 45km. This year is the first year since 2012 that the SUSI grant has been adjusted.

The second major student news to come out of budget day is that 19-23-year-olds will now receive a 50 per cent discount on public transportation. The discount comes as part of a €25 million budget item for student travel cards. 

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said the discount will not only be to keep young people on public transportation for climate reasons, but also support the age group hit hardest by the housing crisis. 

A third major breakthrough this morning as a result of the budget is the announcement that women between 17 and 25 will have access to free contraception starting in August. This is the result of a €10 million line item in the budget. 

“The pill”, along with over long term contraceptive options, will be offered. Young women will also get two free GP visits a year to discuss their contraception options, as part of a €31 million women health package in the budget. 

“The high upfront cost of the most effective long-lasting contraceptives makes them inaccessible to many women, who are currently forced to rely on less effective methods or no method at all,” said Niall Behan, CEO of the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA).

Young parents also got a major win today. As part of the over €20 million health budget announced, childcare for six and seven-year-olds will continue to be free, with the expectation of expanding free child care to children up to 12 years old in the coming years. 

Devin Sean Martin