THE number of third-level students eligible for the SUSI grant is decreasing, according to new figures.
Meanwhile, the number of students attending college is continuing to rise, with less and less people finding themselves eligible for the grant.
Figures received by RTE News show that 71,500 students were awarded grants by the State’s student maintenance body this year.
This compares to 85,000 in 2016, which represents a decline of 16 per cent over the past five years.
And last year, 79,000 students received the grant, showing a seven per cent decline since 2016.
This comes as Budget 2022 will see income thresholds for eligibility increased by €1,000 for next year’s applicants.
Meanwhile, the number of students attending third-level education continues to rise, as the overall number has increased by more than 17 per cent between 2015 and 2020.
This means that while many more students are attending colleges across Ireland, significantly fewer are now eligible for the SUSI grant.
And the number of people applying to SUSI for grant aid also continues to fall, as 95,000 students applied this year, compared to 103,000 four years ago and 108,000 in 2015.
The fall in applications and grant awards is likely to be due to the fact that income thresholds for grant eligibility have been static for a decade.
And wages have risen over the same period, meaning that a significant proportion of students who may in past years have been eligible for a SUSI grant, based on their parents’ wages, are not anymore.
Thresholds for eligibility will increase by €1,000 next year following this week’s budget announcements.
The main income threshold for a full grant will rise from €39,875, to almost €41,000, which will include parental earnings from all sources, as well as any money earned by a student during the academic year.
The Department of Further and Higher Education said the increased income threshold would ensure that more students qualify and more families can access support.
Meanwhile, Further and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris will later today give more detail on the Budget measures for third-level education.