Local Fine Gael TD, Frances Fitzgerald, is reminding current and prospective college students to apply for the Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) grant scheme which is now open to applications for the 2018/19 academic year.

“The SUSI grant scheme is open earlier than usual this year and it is now open for online applications for the 2018/19 academic year. Hopefully our current 6th year students can make the most of this change and get their applications out of the way before their Leaving Cert exams,” urged Fitzgerald.

The priority closing dates for the 2018/19 scheme are the 14th June 2018 for renewal applicants and the 12th July 2018 for new applicants.

Fitzgerald continued: “For all SUSI applicants, the earlier opening date also means that decisions will be made on their applications sooner than in previous years. This will mean greater certainty on their grant applications and give them more time to financially plan their upcoming academic year.

“A number of changes to the SUSI grant were introduced in 2018, including a number of additional income disregards, an extension to the qualifying criteria to receive the special rate of maintenance grant and an increase in the reckonable income threshold for the special rate of maintenance grant. Given these changes, I would encourage all students to review the grant criteria online at www.susi.ie as this may have positively affected your eligibility”.

Fitzgerald stated; “Improving the progress of students at risk of educational disadvantage or learners with special educational needs is so important. That is why Government has allocated over €400million this year for access measures in further and higher education. An additional €4m has also been set aside to targeted initiatives to support the most vulnerable groups wishing to access higher education.”

“Students should not cap their ambition, whatever their background. Further and higher education is one way that they can achieve their goals and an option that these measures can help deliver,” concluded Fitzgerald.