For the Government to begin the phased restoration of the SAF to €11m over the next three Budgets.

USI welcomes the additional allocation of €1million in the Budget 2016, but it is clear that this figure does not meet the needs required of SAF in our HEIs and a phased increase is needed.

Students apply for student assistance to help with either temporary or ongoing financial difficulties that put them at risk of dropping out of college. The SAF provides an alternative source of funding for higher education students in addition to the student grant (SUSI) and often assists students who may not qualify under the SUSI structure by marginal amounts. Each year, the State allocates a specific amount of student assistance funding to all publicly funded higher education colleges based on the size of the college’s full-time student population, for example DCU received €352,161 in 2014 whereas St. Angela’s college in Sligo received €19,561 the same year.

SAF funding is used up in the first semester or before Christmas each year but differs according to institution (although all are under severe strain in their allocations). SAF support is required to ensure that students are supported and continue in their studies. The DIT Campus Life Cost of Living Guide estimates the cost of studying at third level is a minimum of €11,000 per annum if a student is studying away from home, and €6,897 if a student is able to remain at home while studying. 15.2% of those living below the poverty line in Ireland are students while the cost of renting has increased by 13.9% nationally. The SAF is also not currently available to Further Education/PLC colleges or part-time students. In addition, Postgraduate students receive very little due to a priority given to undergraduate students.

Costings:

2018 Budget + €1m to €9m

2019 Budget + €1m to €11m

2020 Budget + €1m to €10m

 

Responsibility: Department of Education and Skills