Rise in Number of Students but a Decrease in SUSI Grants

The number of students that are eligible for the SUSI Grant has dropped this year despite an increase in the number of students attending university.

SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland) is Ireland’s awarding authority for all further and higher education grants. SUSI provides financial support for eligible students studying here and abroad.

Depending on your eligibility you may have your university fees paid for and a monthly payment starting at €305.

Many students have been deemed ineligible for the student grant and others have experienced a drastic cut in the amount that they are receiving. This is having many negative effects on students.

Students are being forced to take up part-time jobs which is taking from the time that they need to dedicate to assignments and study.

This will become more problematic as exam season approaches.

This also means students are overworked and exhausted making it difficult for them to give their full attention in lectures.

Other students have taken the route of applying for a loan. Paying back a loan can add to the financial pressure that students are already feeling.

To me, a loan is the best option as it allows you to feel assured that your rent will be paid even if you are struggling to find the funds for the less important things like coffees and nights out.

In my case, taking out a loan meant that I did not have to worry about where the money for my rent was going to come from.

I now know that any money I earn from my weekend job can be used for other things I need like petrol and food, even though the worry of paying back the loan will always be in the back of my mind.

In some other cases, students have unwillingly had to go to universities that were not their first choice.

In one case, a boy had his heart set on studying at UCD but because he did not receive the full grant, he had to accept an offer in UCC as the rent and other living expenses worked out cheaper.

He also must work a weekend job for money on top of the grant payment in order to pay his rent and buy food.

Other students like myself who have received the full grant for the years prior to this year and who have had no change in circumstances have had their grants cut without any explanation.

It is unfair to expect parents to pay for students’ expenses, especially when they have other children to feed and support.

In the budget for 2022, students eligible for the grant will see a €200 increase in their monthly payments. The income threshold is due to increase by €1,000 meaning more students will qualify for the support.

It is just a shame this could not have happened sooner, especially considering the hardship that people have gone through financially for the past two years while tackling Covid-19 and losing jobs.

Jayde Maher.

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