Wednesday, 14 November 2001
Dáil Eireann Debate
284. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the anomaly which exists whereby social welfare recipients who do not live at home and who are not 23 years of age are disqualified from receiving third level grants due to the fact that they are assessed with their parents' income; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26897/01]
Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): The higher education grants schemes operate under the Local Authorities (Higher Education Grants) Acts, 1968 to 1992. These Acts define a mature student to mean a person of not less than 23 years of age, or such other age as may stand specified for the time being in regulations made by the Minister with the consent of the Minister for Finance, who have secured places in approved institutions and have reached that age on the first day of January, or such other date as may be prescribed from time to time by the Minister with the consent of the Minister for Finance, in the year of entry to such institutions.
Under the terms of the schemes, mature students are categorised as either independent mature students or mature students dependent on parents. An independent mature student is defined to mean a mature candidate who was not ordinarily resident with his or her parents from 1 October preceding their entry to an approved course. Independent mature students are deemed to be self-supporting and are assessed without reference to either their parents' income or address.
When assessing the means of students other than independent mature students, 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 categorised as an independent mature student. The other student support schemes have similar provisions in relation to the means assessment of students.
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