A NEW CENTRAL online system for third-level students to apply for and receive grants has been launched by the Department of Education.
The new system – Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) – will replace the existing system with a centralised online application system.
Prior to this students had to apply to one of 66 local authorities and VECs for grants. The system had been criticised for regular delays for students in receiving their grants each year, with all of the grant awarding authorities involved using a variety of application and assessment processes.
Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn urged students to make use of the site and apply for grants early this year.
“Now that the new system is up and running I would call on students who will be starting college in the autumn or those who are beginning new courses to apply on-line as soon as they can,” said the Minister.
An estimated 40 per cent of all third-level students receive grants.
The SUSI website will accept all new grant applications and will give out payments to students starting college in the coming academic year or those beginning new courses.
“The process is quick and easy, you do not have to have decided on your college course before applying and you will be informed much quicker on the outcome of your application,” said Minister Quinn.
“Many students have had to wait for lengthy periods for their grants in the past and faced undue hardship as a result of these delays. Now, once they are approved, they will receive monthly electronic transfer into their bank accounts during the academic year”.
The Minister said the new system was an ‘excellent example’ of public sector reform: 170 people are currently employed across the 66 grant awarding authorities, whereas SUSI has a staff of 65. Minister Quinn said around €5 million per year will be saved by the taxpayer once the transition to the new system is complete.
“These reforms will ensure better customer service for all students who rely on grants and are also a concrete development in meeting the objectives for the education sector as set out in the Croke Park Agreement,” he said.