Deputy Michael Lowry has criticised what he described as the farcical and shambolic backlog of Student Grant applicants currently awaiting a decision from the awarding body, SUSI. The Independent T.D. for North Tipperary explained that this nationalised body has taken over the awarding of all Student Grant applications, a power which was previously vested in Local Authorities and VEC’s. Deputy Lowry stated that of the 65,000 applications received by SUSI for this academic year, less than 5,000 have been approved to date resulting in huge stress, upset and concern for students and families still awaiting a decision.
He stated: “My office is overwhelmed at present with queries from applicants who are in an increasingly precarious financial situation whilst they await the decision on their student grant application. They all report long delays in getting through to SUSI and a lack of clear information when they call. The early months in college are very testing for students and are often the most expensive with deposits to be paid, books and materials to be bought and college homes to be stocked. Additional financial worries at this already stressful time is the last thing that students need.”
“I have called on the Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn T.D. to take responsibility for this system and to take immediate steps to ensure that all remaining cases are examined and addressed as swiftly as possible.”