Dáil Éireann - Volume 643 - 11 December, 2007
Written Answers. - Higher Education Grants.
Deputy Michael McGrath Deputy Michael McGrath
Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the provisions of the higher education grant scheme in relation to the assessment of means for applicants who are over 18 years of age but living at home with parents; and if basis of the means assessment changes if the same applicant has dependent children of their own. [34206/07]
Deputy Mary Hanafin Deputy Mary Hanafin
Deputy Mary Hanafin: My Department funds four maintenance grant schemes for third level and further education students which are administered by the Local Authorities and the Vocational Education Committees. Students who are entering approved courses at undergraduate or postgraduate level for the first time are eligible for maintenance  grants where they satisfy the relevant conditions as to age, residence, means and nationality.
Under the terms of the Department’s maintenance grants schemes, and in accordance with the Local Authorities (Higher Education Grants) Act 1992, a mature student is defined as a candidate who is at least 23 years of age on the 1st January of the year of entry or re-entry to an approved course.
Under the terms of my Department’s 2007 Third Level Student Maintenance Grant Schemes the position is that, students who are entering approved courses for the first time are eligible for grants where they satisfy the prescribed conditions with regard to age, residence, means, nationality and previous academic attainment. A mature student is defined for the purposes of the schemes as a candidate who is at least 23 years of age on the 1st January of the year of entry or re-entry to an approved course.
Mature students are categorised as either independent mature students or mature students dependent on parents or guardians. An independent mature student is defined as meaning a mature student who was not ordinarily resident at home with his/her parents or guardians from the October preceding their entry to an approved course. Independent mature students are assessed without reference to either their parents’ or guardians’ income or address.
When assessing the means of students other than independent mature students, the means test provision of the scheme specifies that the students’ means and those of their parents or guardians must be below a prescribed limit. This provision requires that parental income be taken into account irrespective of the individual circumstances in any case where the student is not an independent mature student.
Generally speaking, candidates continue to be assessed under the terms and conditions of the Scheme appropriate to their year of entry. Accordingly, candidates who where not classified as Independent Mature Students at the time of entry, or re-entry, to an approved course may not generally be assessed as such for the duration of their course.
Dáil Éireann 643 Written Answers. Higher Education Grants.