Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Nora Barry from Civil and Public Service Jobs to give some advice for people considering this job:

 

Nora Barry

Third Secretary

Civil and Public Service Jobs

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  Nora Barry
A keen interest in current affairs, a willingness to travel and an acceptance that this role is a lifestyle choice are all necessary. I believe having lived abroad for a period of time and experiencing different cultures are also an advantage.
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Not surprisingly, some aspect of the natural sciences will run through the Naturalists interests - from ecological awareness to nutrition and health. People with an interest in horticulture, land usage and farming (including fish) are Naturalists.

Some Naturalists focus on animals rather than plants, and may enjoy working with, training, caring for, or simply herding them. Other Naturalists will prefer working with the end result of nature's produce - the food produced from plants and animals. Naturalists like solving problems with solutions that show some sensitivity to the environmental impact of what they do. They like to see practical results, and prefer action to talking and discussing.
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SUSI - Student Grant Scheme

Students attending full-time higher education undergraduate/postgraduate courses (Level 6-9) and full-time Further Education courses (Level 5-6) can get financial support through the means-tested Student Grant Scheme.

The Student Grant is made up of 2 components:

  • A Maintenance Grant and
  • A Fee Grant.

The Maintenance Grant is a contribution towards the student’s living costs, while the Fee Grant can cover any of the following 3 elements:

  • Tuition fees
  • Student contribution and
  • Cost of essential field trips.

In general, if you qualify for a maintenance grant you will also qualify for whatever elements of a fee grant applies to your situation.

Grant rates for qualifying students vary according to a number of factors including: household income, family size and whether the student's college is close to their permanent residence. In other words, it is 'means tested'.

Means Test

The means test for a student grant in 2016-2017 is based on your family's gross income for the previous full tax year (2015), unless you, or your family, have had a change of circumstances (which is likely to be permanent) since 31 December 2015 - your changed circumstances may be taken into account.

Reckonable income for a student grant is gross income from all sources.

Some social welfare payments are excluded from 'reckonable income' for the purposes of student grants - see more details on reckonable income on susi.ie and also in the Student Grant Scheme 2016 (pdf).

If you were ordinarily resident with your parents from October 1 of the year before the year of entry to the course, you are considered dependent on your parents and your income (if any) is assessed together with your parents' income(s).

An allowance is made for your earnings outside of term-time (up to €4,500). Outside term time is counted as 2 weeks at Christmas, 2 weeks at Easter and 12 weeks during the summer months of June, July and August. (Holiday pay earned outside these periods may also be allowed by the grant awarding authority on receipt of a letter from the school/college confirming the exact dates of term).

The Student Grant Scheme is quite a detailed application process so it is crucial that you apply as early as possible if you plan to take-up a course of study.

SUSI is the centralised online system for processing grant applications. To view the online SUSI application form click here.

RATES of PAYMENT

Changes in Maintenance Grant Rates take effect in January each year. The rates for 2016/17 are as follows:

Adjacent and non-adjacent rates

For students who live 45 kilometres or less from the college being attended, the adjacent rate of maintenance grant is payable. This rate applies to all students living within this distance, including all mature students, both dependent and independent. The non-adjacent rate applies to everyone else.

Grant Payments

Grant Award Payments are made as follows:

Maintenance Grants: In three or nine monthly instalments into your own bank account by EFT (Electronic Fund Transfer).

Fee Grants: Directly to the college/institution you will attend, on your behalf, once the college has confirmed your registration as a student.

Grant payment dates for 2016/17 are available from SUSI here.

NB: Before making an application, students are encouraged to refer to the General Criteria  and to use the Ready Reckoner provided on the SUSI website. The eligibility reckoner is provided by SUSI to assist students in deciding whether they should apply for a student grant. It provides a quick indication of eligibility for grant funding based on the answers given to 10 questions without completing and submitting  a full online grant application. 

If you are doing a Further Education (FE) course and getting the BTEA or a VTOS allowance you are exempt from the new student participant charge (€200). You may have to pay a course charge for books, exam fees and other costs.

When will SUSI be open for 2016/17 applications?

The SUSI online Student Grant Application System for the 2016/2017 academic year opened on 5 April, 2016, significantly earlier than in previous years, to process grants more efficiently.

Those applying for grant renewals must apply before 6th June 2016. The date for new applications is 8th July. You do not have to wait until you get your Leaving Cert results and CAO offers.

NOTE: SUSI are still accepting applications for the 2016/17 academic year, but applications received before the 8th of July will be prioritised.

See also SUSI or follow SUSI - Education | Facebook

Other useful information about applying for a grant:

There is a lot of paperwork involved in applying for a grant so start gathering this information as soon as possible!You will need an offer from the college, however, you do not need to wait until after your son/daughter has received their results to begin the process of getting all necessary paperwork together. These will include:

  • Birth Certificate
  • PPS Number
  • Documentary evidence of reckonable income: P60, P21, P45
  • Documentary evidence for social welfare payments
  • Documentary evidence for self-employment, rental income, savings, deposit accounts, income from maintenance agreements, inheritance.
  • Course Acceptance Form

The full list of documentation that may be needed is available here.

Note: SUSI assesses income from the previous year as part of its assessment criteria. Therefore, the income assessed for the 2016/17 academic year will be gross income for 2015. Where there is self-employed, farming or rental income, SUSI requires a full set of trading accounts for 2015. SUSI also requires an acknowledgement of self-assessment (received from the Revenue Commissioners on submission of tax returns). SUSI cannot fully process applications without this information, therefore such tax returns should be made early in 2016. Full details are available here.

Final Course Acceptance (FCA) Form

As a new grant applicant, you do not need to have accepted a place on a college course in order to apply for a grant. However you will need to inform SUSI that you have been offered and accepted a place on a course before your application can be finalised. You can do this in the following ways:

Online SUSI Grant Application

You can confirm that you have accepted a place on a course when you first submit your online grant application and provide details of your chosen course in section C3 of the online grant application form.

CAO Applicants

If you have allowed CAO (Central Applications Office) to share your information with SUSI, CAO will inform SUSI of this and will confirm details of your chosen course to SUSI when you have accepted a CAO place offer

Online SUSI Final Course Acceptance (FCA) Form

You can inform SUSI that you have accepted a place on a course after you have submitted your grant application by submitting an online FCA form through the homepage of your SUSI account.

If you subsequently accept a place on a different course, or on a course not offered to you through the CAO, you can submit a new online FCA form at any time through the homepage of your SUSI account. Your application will be decided on the basis of the most recent course details provided to SUSI by any of the above methods. Please note that grants can only be awarded in respect of approved course.


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