Thursday, 27 May 2010
Dáil Éireann Debate
258. Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the procedure to be put in place regarding the payment of registration or tuition fees for students applying for the back to education allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22623/10]
Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Mary Coughlan): The Deputy will be aware that the current difficult economic circumstances have necessitated tough choices to control public expenditure and to ensure sustainability in the long run. In these circumstances, from September 2010, as announced in the Budget, all new applicants who are in receipt of the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA), and the VTOS allowances for those pursuing PLC courses, will be ineligible for student maintenance grants. The cost of the student services charge and any fees payable to colleges will continue to be met for eligible students by the Exchequer on their behalf.
Students currently in receipt of the BTEA or VTOS allowances and the maintenance grant will continue to be eligible for both payments for the duration of their current course provided they continue to meet the terms and conditions of the relevant grant schemes. Students progressing to a new course with effect from 2010/11 will no longer be eligible for student maintenance grants but can apply for assistance towards the cost of the student services charge and any fees payable.
Although BTEA students progressing to a new course or new applicants who are in receipt of the BTEA will no longer be able to hold the maintenance portion of the student grant in addition to the BTEA, they may still submit a student grant application to establish entitlement to payment of the student service charge or tuition fees from my Department. Where a student has indicated that they are currently on the BTEA and are progressing to a new course their application will be assessed to establish their eligibility for the student service charge and tuition fees.
Where a student has indicated on the application form that they have applied for the BTEA, the application will be processed as normal and the registration fee and tuition fees (where applicable) will be paid on behalf of eligible students to the relevant institution. The maintenance portion of the grant will be held until such time as the student can confirm that they have received a decision from the Department of Social Protection in relation to the BTEA.
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