The Green Party has called for an extension of the SUSI grant ahead of the next academic year, to provide additional financial support for students impacted by the coronavirus crisis.
The party said that the grant will need to be raised, as well as extended, to cover more families and protect students who were depending on finding summer work to cover their college costs.
In a press statement, the Green Party’s spokesperson for social protection Marc Ó Cathasaigh said: “There are families who may have been close to qualifying for the SUSI grant but for whom circumstances have changed as a result of Covid 19 and they need to be taken into account.”
“Parents the length and breadth of the country have lost their jobs and while some will return to work, many won’t and this will severely impact students who had hoped to start in college in September”, Ó Cathasaigh said.
“The cost of being a student is very high”, he added, “and already, many students have lost part-time jobs they had to support themselves while others have had to continue to pay rent for vacant accommodation”.
“If we don’t roll out an increase and an extension of the SUSI grant, the financial impact will be disproportionate amongst students in lower socio-economic groups.”
Last week, travel company USIT – which arranges J1 visas for thousands of Irish students every year – said it is “not in a position” to refund those who have paid to travel with the company.
In an email to J1 visa customers, USIT said: “Unfortunately, due to the insolvency of USIT, the Joint Provisional Liquidators are not in a position to pay any refunds to any category of customer or client.”
Last month, the Irish Times reported that the parent company of USIT, Kinlay Group, had gone into provisional liquidation due to the on-going coronavirus pandemic.
Some 3,000 students had paid deposits to USIT to travel to the USA this summer on a J1 visa.