Sinn Féin TD for Tipperary, Martin Browne has said that the Minister for Education needs to clarify the eligibility criteria for SUSI grant applications for those whose incomes have been affected as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He made his remarks as the SUSI grant application process opened on April 23.
He said: “Hundreds of thousands of workers have had their incomes reduced through no fault of their own as a result of the impact of Covid-19.
“While we hope that the impact of this will be short lived for these workers and families, it is clear that many will struggle with the financial burden of sending children to third-level in a few short months.
“However, it appears that the Department of Education has made no provision for these families as the SUSI grant application process opens up and it appears that the Department will make a determination on grant applications based on incomes earned in 2019; ignoring the new reality for thousands of families.
“The SUSI application process only allows for a change of circumstances to be taken into account where the change is 'permanent, or for the foreseeable future'.
“I am calling on the Minister to clarify what arrangements are in place to support students from families that have seen a significant drop in income to meet the costs of third-level education for the new academic year.
“It is clear that the criteria applied in previous years is not fit for purpose and the Minister must take account of these realities to ensure that those who require financial support can access it,” he said.