DEPUTY Michael Lowry has today highlighted the unfair treatment of countless Tipperary students at the hands of SUSI, due to misinformation being provided and students erroneously being informed that they are eligible for grant aid. The Independent T.D. for Tipperary stated that a number of students across the county and indeed the country were informed by SUSI that they were eligible for the student grant, many received some payments, only to later be told this was a mistake.
Deputy Lowry stated: “I was outraged to receive an increasing number of reports to my office of SUSI backtracking on applications that they had previously deemed to be eligible. I have met with a number of local students who now find themselves in this predicament. Many students received written confirmation from SUSI at the beginning of the college year which stated that they had been approved for grant aid and these students progressed with their college course safe in the knowledge that they would receive assistance and support throughout their time studying. To now be informed, as the college year draws to a close, that this was a clerical error is simply not good enough and cannot be allowed.
“I questioned the Minister for Education and Skills on this matter and sought to bring his attention to this shambolic treatment of Tipperary students who are simply trying to further their education. Minister Quinn’s response is grossly inadequate, hugely frustrating and shows a complete disregard to the plight of these students. He has simply stated that mistakes happen and has told students in distress to turn to their college for some assistance. Advising students to apply for a once off support payment is cold comfort for those who are facing the very real prospect of being forced to drop out of college.
“Furthermore many of these students will have incurred significant expense to put themselves through college to date in anticipation of the SUSI payment that they were assured they were eligible to. Through no fault of their own they relied on this information which ultimately turned out to be to their detriment. SUSI has placed these students in a perilous financial situation and the Minister is now washing his hands of them.
“SUSI, since his creation has been a bane in the lives of students rather than a source of assistance. Time and time again Minister Quinn has simply turned his face away for the increasing and overwhelming reports of problems in the system. The Minister has continued to bury his head in the sand and ignore the real despair being felt by students and the devastation of these students who are now being forced to drop out. These students have been failed by the system and the Minister must take action on this.”