If you have children attending college, or are in fact returning to education yourself, then you may be entitled to a student grant for the academic year 2014/2015.
From the academic year 2012/2013 Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI), was nominated as the single national grant-awarding authority for all new student grant applications. Applications must be made through the online application system, which opened recently.
In most cases the renewal will be dealt with through SUSI. However, if you obtained a grant in the previous year from the Education and Training Board or your local authority, these bodies will also processes your 2014/2015 application.
1. SUSI And Your Income Tax Return
While most people will focus on the 1st October 2014 for their 31st December 2013 Income Tax Return, those intending on applying for a student grant through SUSI will need to prepare their Income Tax information much earlier, as this information will be required as part of the application. The closing date for new applications for the 2014/2015 academic year is 1st August 2014. However, it must be noted that the closing date for those renewing an application is 13th June 2013.
While the SUSI process requires you to prepare your Income Tax Returns earlier than the filing deadline of 31st October 2014, payment of your final liability will not be brought forward.
2. Eligibility Requirements Under SUSI
SUSI offers funding to eligible students in approved full-time, third-level education in Ireland, along with funding for Irish students studying overseas in certain circumstances. Support may be available to all types of students, from school leavers to mature students returning to education.
Funding is offered on a means tested basis. Household income for the previous year (31st December 2013) will be taken into account when assessing grant applications. All relevant gross household income is taken into consideration and SUSI liaises with various government departments such as the Department of Social Protection and the Revenue Commissioners in order to verify the information supplied in support of applications.
The SUSI website www.susi.ie provides detailed information on all eligibility criteria, including an “Eligibility Reckoner”, which gives an approximate indication of possible eligibility for grant funding based on simplified criteria. The general eligibility requirements are as follows:
- Approved Institutions and Courses
- Means Test Based on Household Income
3. Income Details Required under SUSI
The income taken into consideration under the SUSI application process will depend on your applicant class, as follows:
(a) Under 23 years assessed on your own income and that of your parents/guardians.
(b) Over 23 years dependent on whether or not you are living independently.
For the 2014/15 academic year, you will be assessed on household income for the period 1st January 2013 to 31st December 2013. The application will take into consideration all sources of gross income for that year. As outlined above, for self employed individuals, you will be required to have your income tax return prepared in order to complete the SUSI application process.
Income for PAYE Workers
In the case of employed individuals, i.e. those earning income through the PAYE system, your income details will be obtained from your PAYE/PRSI Form P.60, which you will have received from your employer.
Income for Self Employed Individuals
As outlined above, the Pay and File tax deadline for self employed individuals imposed by the Revenue Commissioners for 2013 is 31st October 2014. However, due to the SUSI application closing dates of 1st August 2014, or 13th June 2014 in the case of renewals, the information required for your Income Tax Return will be required to be prepared well in advance of the Revenue Commissioners deadline. It is advisable to complete the SUSI application as early as possible, as this will facilitate a more efficient processing and payment of any grant entitlements. It is advised that you speak to your accountant in connection with the preparation of your Income Tax Return.
4. SUSI – The Online Application Process
There are three steps under the SUSI on-line application process as follows:
Step 1 – Making your application
Before you complete your application you must first register for an online account by completing an online registration form. To complete this you will be required to provide the following:
- Your name
- Date of birth
- Personal Public Service Number (PPSN),
- E-mail address
- Telephone number.
Under this processes you will need to select a username and password. Once established, this user name and password will be used to access your account when completing your application for a student grant.
Once you have access to your account, you will require the following information to complete your application:
- CAO or UCAS number (if you have one)
- PPSN numbers for yourself, your parent(s) or legal guardian(s), spouse/cohabitant or civil partner, as appropriate
- Income details for 2013 for yourself (if any) your parent(s) or legal guardian(s), spouse/cohabitant or civil partner, as appropriate.
The application form incorporates six sections dealing with the following:
- Personal information
- Education details
- Details of parents/cohabitants/dependents etc.
Step 2 – Supplying documentation for your application
Following the submission of the online application you will receive a letter, within 12 weeks, outlining the documentation you will be required to submit within a specified time frame. (If you do not receive a letter within the 12 weeks, you should contact the SUSI helpdesk.)
Refusal letters are also issued to those deemed ineligible for funding, based on the information provided on their initial application forms.
The documentation which maybe requested will include:
- Copies of utility bills to demonstrate independent living
- Evidence from the Department of Social Protection confirming receipt of certain payments
- A copy of a passport to confirm nationality
- Bank/social welfare/revenue statements to confirm residency
- Evidence of education
- Forms P60 in relation to employment income
- Copies of trading accounts for the self-employed
- Copies of audited company accounts for proprietary directors
- Statements of interest from banks/credit unions etc.
- Evidence of maintenance payments
- Capital Gains Tax Computations for 2013
- Documentary evidence for pension contributions
The number of documents requested will depend on your application details. As soon as you forward the relevant documentation, your application will be placed in a queue for processing by an assessor. If any additional information is required this will be requested by the assessor.
Step 3 – Receiving your grant
After all documentation has been correctly provided, you will receive one of the following letters:
Provisionally Awarded letter: You will receive this letter if you have been assessed as eligible for funding, but your course has not yet been confirmed.
Award letter: You will receive this letter if you have been assessed as eligible for funding and your course has been confirmed, either through the CAO system or by submitting an FCA (Final Course Acceptance).
Refusal letter: You will receive this letter if you have been assessed as ineligible for funding and it will outline why you are being refused. If you feel you have been refused in error, the letter provides details on the appeals procedure. Information on the appeals process is set out on the SUSI website.
We understand that putting your child, or even yourself, through third level education can be a financial burden. We have assisted a number of our clients with the successful application for a student grant through SUSI. It is vital that you prepare the relevant paperwork for the SUSI application process as early as possible to ensure efficient processing and approval of your grant entitlement. While this may mean that you will have prepared your Income Tax Return well in advance of the pay and file deadline, you are not required to submit your Income Tax Return until 31st October 2014,
If you would like assistance or further information on applying for a student grant through SUSI please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team.