The Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue has revealed that there are still more than 2,200 students waiting for grants as the college year comes to an end.
According to information received by Fianna Fáil through parliamentary questions, the controversial new grant processing system, SUSI, still has not processed grant applications for 328 students. In addition to this, there are over 1,900 students in dispute with SUSI over documentation that was or was not supplied.
“The college year is nearly over. It is unacceptable that there are still thousands of students still waiting for a grant to support them through an academic year that is now coming to a close,” Deputy McConalogue said.
“Thousands more students from low-income families have only received their grants in the last number of weeks having spent the first few months of college without the financial support they needed. Some were waiting so long that they were forced to drop out of third level education altogether. Others faced difficulties in accessing college facilities. Many families were put in an impossible position of having to borrow money, or sacrifice other essentials to put their child through college.
“We are now well into May and students across the country are sitting their summer exams. It is unacceptable that there are still over 300 grant applications that haven’t been processed. SUSI has also sought to blame over 1,900 for ‘incomplete’ documentation – even though there are countless cases of students in dispute with SUSI over missing documentation. Many students have been unable to contact SUSI to get answers, or they have been told SUSI ‘never received’ documents they sent, or that certain documentation was lost.
“Minister Quinn has presided over a complete shambles in SUSI. This new centralised grant system was supposed to be more efficient and eradicate any delays in getting grants to the students who need them most. The exact opposite has happened. The reality has been a litany of mistakes and mismanagement, and Minister Quinn has failed to take charge to sort them out. We need a guarantee from the Minister that this won’t happen next year.”