Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue has accused the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn of attempting to downplay the ongoing crisis over student grants.
Deputy McConalogue has called on Minister Quinn to clearly state how many of the students who have been caught up in the SUSI crisis will actually receive grant payments before Christmas.
The Fianna Fáil Deputy said, “While 32,000 grant applications have been processed, just a fraction of these students have actually received a payment.  Figures released to me through a series of Parliamentary Questions show that just 7,132 of the 66,827 students who applied for grants this year had a received a payment as of the end of November.  This is extremely low.  
“The Minister’s focus and energy is on spinning the figures to make this situation look more palatable than it is.  But students don’t want to hear talk of processes and systems, they just want to know when they will actually get the money they are entitled to.  They also don’t want to hear Minister Quinn’s ‘it’s the students fault’ defence.  The tactic of blaming students for the high level of unprocessed and ‘incomplete’ grant applications is a cheap shot.  Students from lower income families who are in need of state support to stay in college are not the ones dragging their heels here.
“It now looks extremely likely that the vast majority of students will not receive a grant payment until well into the New Year.  It is the lack of certainty that is causing the most distress for students and their families. It is time for Minister Quinn to stop worrying about his PR, and start being upfront with students about when exactly they will see their grants.  The longer this lingers, the greater the likelihood that more students will be forced to drop out of third level altogether.”