“There is no need for a student to have a college offer before applying to SUSI and applications should be made even if students are not yet sure if they will take up their offer,” writes Guidance Counsellor Aoife Walsh in the Irish Independent.
Anyone considering entering higher or further education in autumn 2015 may begin their application for the SUSI grant from Thursday April 23rd.
This is the most common form of financial support for students going to college and students may receive support for their registration fee, maintenance or part of either.
For anyone unsure whether or not they may qualify for this assistance it would be helpful to view the 'should I apply' section available at susi.ie. Applicants can also use the 'eligibility reckoner', which provides a quick indication of eligibility based on the answers given to 10 questions.
It is of the utmost importance that applications are made as early as possible. Failure to do so may result in long delays. There is no need for a student to have a college offer before applying, and applications should be made even if students are not yet sure if they will take up their offer.
Once an applicant has decided to proceed with their application they must decide what type of applicant they are, independent or dependant. Any applicant who was living with their parent in October 2014 is considered a dependant candidate, regardless of their age. They will be assessed on the basis of their parents' and their own income.
Applicants over the age of 23 who do not live with their parents can be assessed as independents. Only their income and that of their spouse or partner, if relevant, will be considered.
The next step is to go to grantsonline.ie and begin the application. Applicants will need their PPS number and working email address. They will be asked to enter a password, which should be kept safe, as it will be needed again.
Most questions are fairly straight forward and an applicant can stop at any time and save the work done. SUSI has a helpline, which is happy to clarify any issue. The application will not go to SUSI for evaluation until the applicant hits the 'submit" button.'
Changes introduced in recent years mean that the application process is smoother than ever. Applicants are now required to submit far fewer documents than in the past, however they may still be required to submit some. Applicants will receive a personalised list of documents, which they must send to SUSI soon after applying. Once all documents have been gathered, photocopies only should be sent to SUSI.
NOTE: Applicants should also include a stamped address envelope so SUSI can return the documents. While SUSI will issue a date by which these documents must be received, the sooner they are received by SUSI the better.
SUSI provides a list of possible required documents on their website. It is helpful for applicants to look at this and start organising items they are sure they will need, for example, documents in relation to nationality or refugee status.
Aoife Walsh is a Guidance Counsellor at Malahide Community School
For more information on the SUSI grant system click here.