Fianna Fáil Senator, Paschal Mooney, has said it is deeply unfair that students in Counties Roscommon and Leitrim could face a threat to their third level grants because of the mess the Government made with the household charge.
It follows reports that Leitrim and Roscommon County Councils will follow other local authorities in demanding proof of payment for the household charge from all students applying for third level grants.
Senator Mooney said, “This is a new low for the government. Linking the household charge to student grants is simply unacceptable. I am appalled that instead of standing up for students, the Education Minister Ruairí Quinn has described this practise as ‘reasonable’ and seems to see nothing wrong in targeting students from lower-income families.
“Students who are seeking financial support for college are not homeowners themselves. Why should they be penalised because their parents can’t or won’t pay the household charge? Why should their third level education be put in jeopardy because this Government made a complete and utter mess over the roll out and collection of the household charge?
“A dangerous precedent is being set here and it must be stopped. Linking the household charge and student grants raises serious questions about what comes next. There are now reports that a raft of other state supports and entitlements will also now be linked to payment of the household charge. This could include grants to people with disabilities and social welfare supports.
“The funding for student grants and an individual’s entitlement to apply for a grant has absolutely nothing to do with the Household Charge. This controversy has caused panic for students and their families not just in Leitrim and Roscommon, but right across this region. While I understand that both councils are under severe financial pressure as a result of Minister Hogan’s heavy handed cuts to funding, it is wrong to make students pay for the Government’s mistakes.”