Uncertainty surrounds the impact of receipt of the PUP on SUSI applications
Labour spokesperson on Higher and Further Education, Senator Annie Hoey, has called for Minister Harris to rectify the unfair decision to allow the Pandemic Unemployment Payments (PUP) to be counted towards students SUSI grant applications.
Senator Hoey said: “It came to my attention last year that students who have been in receipt of PUP were going to be put at a major disadvantage when it came to their SUSI grant assessment. I asked Minister Harris to raise this at Cabinet as a matter of urgency last October. I wrote to him and raised the issue in the Seanad. And lo and behold here we are seven months later and I have students and parents alike calling my office telling me they have missed out on SUSI because the PUP pushed them out of their qualifying bracket for SUSI, often by a very small amount.
"Minster Harris needs to wake up and address this issue now. It is totally unfair that a student would lose out on a grant that is essential for their attendance at college because they accepted the PUP in lieu of work they lost because of the lockdowns. This same PUP was offered to them by this government without any warning that by accepting it it could affect their future SUSI applications.
"This was flagged by myself and others at the time, but Minister Harris has not found a solution to the problem. In response to a parliament question about it, submitted by Ged Nash TD on my behalf, the Minster restated that students who are affected could appeal through SUSI. I don’t think it is fair to put the responsibility for clearing up this mess on students, or on SUSI for that matter, who have enough to be doing managing the high volume of applications they get every year.
“In the normal course of a SUSI application, a full-time student is permitted to work for the months of June, July and August each year. They can also work for two weeks at Easter and two additional weeks at Christmas. As it stands now here is a €4500 income disregard applied to any income earned during this period for SUSI grant application assessment purposes. However, students are now being advised that income from social protection (PUP) are not included in this income disregard. This immediately puts students who were in receipt of the PUP this year at a disadvantage when it comes to their SUSI grant assessment and needs to be rectified".
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