118 COLLEGE STUDENTS who applied for grants from the new national authority last year are still awaiting a decision on their application – even after the college year has finished.
Officials from the City of Dublin VEC, which manages the new Student Universal Support Ireland, says applications from over a hundred students for the 2012-13 academic year still have not been wrapped up.
Rulings on whether those students are entitled to a grant are still pending, Jacinta Stewart from CDVEC told the Oireachtas education committee this afternoon.
The delay in reaching a final decision for those students leaves them in academic limbo – as their colleges will not release their first year exam results until their fees for the first year have been settled.
This, in turn, means those students do not know whether they may have to sit repeat exams later this summer, or potentially repeat their full college year. They are also unable to apply for a renewal of their grant for the coming academic year.
SUSI received 69,683 grant applications from first-year students last year, awarding grants to 39,524 applicants – including 4,260 on appeal – and rejecting 30,041 others, either because they did not meet the criteria or their applications were withdrawn.
543 students whose applications were refused are currently the subject of appeal.
SUSI’s figures for the number of rejected applications also include cases where the student was not considered to have submitted all documentation – with reports of some cases where students claimed they were never asked to submit extra details to SUSI, and had their application closed as a result.
Stewart added that SUSI now had data-sharing arrangements with a number of other bodies, including the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Social Protection, so that applicants will no longer have to approach those bodies seeking extra documents for their application.
Other changes to this year’s process included asking students for their bank payment details at the start of the process, instead of asking them for payment details at the end of the process after their application had been approved.
SUSI paid out almost €160 million in grants to applicants last year, out of a total national budget of around €350 million.