I’m hoping to start college for the first time in September and think I may be eligible for a student grant. I’ve been told by a friend that I need to apply for my grant through “SUSI”. Can you tell me what this is and what I need to do?
Your friend is correct. Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) is the online-based system that will handle all new grant applications for the 2012/2013 academic year. Students who are changing college course or progressing to a new course will also need to make their grant applications through SUSI. Those who received a grant last year and are continuing with their course will be contacted by their local authority or VEC to review their situation and so won’t need to use the new system.
The closing date for applications is the end of August, but you should apply as soon as possible. You don’t need to wait for the offer of a college place and it doesn’t matter if you’re still not sure what course you’ll be taking up. Before you can apply, you need to register with SUSI. To do this, visit www.studentfinance.ie and click on the SUSI icon. You’ll be prompted to enter your personal details and will be asked for your PPS number and email address. You will also need to input a password, which you’ll use each time you access your application.
Once you have registered, you can then start the application process. The online system will guide you through each section and you can save and come back to your application as many times as you need to. Make sure you’re completely happy with the details you have entered before you hit the “submit” button as once you’ve done so, the only changes you can make are to your personal details.
The SUSI team will contact you by post once they’ve completed an initial assessment of your application. They’ll give you a list of supporting documents you’ll need to return to them, as well as a personalised declaration to be signed. You should only submit copies of the requested documents, not originals. SUSI will then assess your application, together with the documents submitted and let you know if you’ve been provisionally awarded a grant for the coming academic year.
It is worth noting that some of the supporting documentation could include, where appropriate, Notice of Assessment for your parents for the last full tax year or P21 (Balancing Statement) for the last full tax year.
If you are successful, once you confirm acceptance of a college place your grant will be awarded. Don’t forget to notify the fees or registration office in your college that you are eligible for a grant.
As an undergraduate, there are two types of grant that you may be entitled to. A maintenance grant is a contribution towards your living costs and will be paid directly into your bank account each month. You may also qualify for a fee grant to help you with all or part of your student contribution, essential college field trips or tuition fees that aren’t covered by the Free Fees Scheme. This type of grant is paid directly to your college.
The aim of SUSI is to streamline the grant application process and make sure that students aren’t waiting months for their first payments to come through. However, if you have any trouble making your online application, you can contact the SUSI support desk by telephone or email. Contact details can be found at www.studentfinance.ie.