Deputy Michael Lowry has called on the Government to ensure that the systematic flaws inherent in the SUSI system are fully fixed for students applying for the grant scheme for the academic year 2013/2014.
The Independent Deputy for Tipperary urged all those considering attending college in September 2013 to commence the student grant application process as swiftly as possible in a bid to offset any delays and to ensure that their application is assessed as speedily as possible.
Deputy Lowry stated;
“We are all aware of the difficulties and delays inherent in the SUSI application system since its creation. My office has been overwhelmed over the past year with queries from applicants who are in a precarious financial situation whilst they await the decision on their student grant application. Last year we saw students being forced to leave their chosen college course due to the excessive delays in applications being assessed, misinformation from SUSI and a severe delay in funds being released. In many cases they meet a brick wall when they contact SUSI and unfortunately thousands of application are still outstanding and awaiting a decision. This simply cannot be allowed to continue into the coming academic year. SUSI staff must be fully resourced and trained in the intricacies of the system.”
“I have been petitioning the Government on this matter since SUSI was created and have continually raised concerns on behalf of applicants. I am again asking the Government to ensure that the shambolic delays in SUSI in the last year are not repeated and that applications are assessed swiftly and accurately to ensure that students are not left in the dark. The SUSI system to date has proven to be hugely negative and distressing for students and this cannot be allowed to continue into the coming academic year.”
“In addition I am aware of a large number of student grant applications for last year that have been closed by SUSI in May. SUSI has informed applicants that they are ineligible for the grant due to their failure to return the requested documentation in a reasonable time. However the reality in these cases is that the students applied in good time, prior to the closing date, but then faced an excessive and unreasonable delay in SUSI seeking the required documentation from them. This is an issue with SUSI and students must not be punished as a result of these inefficiencies. It is grossly unfair with the academic year now drawing to a close to simply close these applications, forcing students to appeal this decision, despite the fact that they were not at fault.”
“In light of problems still present in the SUSI system and in order to try and avoid delays I would advise all interested to apply early and get into system as fast as possible. This can be done through the student finance website. SUSI will then assess the information provided and write out to applications with a preliminary decision and seeking the required documentation. Students can apply now, even if they do not know what course they will be undertaking in September. This information can be submitted later.”