More than 2,000 students from across Co. Galway are still waiting for their grant applications to be processed.
Figures released through a series of Parliamentary Questions have revealed that of the 4,403 students from Galway who applied for grants this year, less than 2,000 of these applications had been processed by the beginning of December, and only a fraction of these students had actually received grant payments.
By the beginning of the month, 705 Galway students had been rejected for a grant and 1,230 applications were successful. However, the vast majority of Galway students are still waiting to actually receive a grant payment.
Galway Deputy Eamon Ó Cuív said that it was clear that the crisis had not gone away, “despite attempts by Education Minister Ruairí Quinn to downplay it”.
“The fact that less than half of the Galway grant applications still hadn’t been processed by the beginning of December is extremely worrying. Even of those applications that have been processed, a high proportion of these students haven’t actually received a payment yet,” he said.
“Despite all Minister Quinn’s promises, the vast majority of students will be waiting well into the New Year for their grants. I have already spoken to a number of students who are experiencing enormous difficulties as a result of these unacceptable delays and who are at risk of dropping out of third level altogether.”
The Fianna Fáil TD continued to say that the longer the grants crisis was allowed to linger, the “greater the likelihood” that many students would not be able to afford to stay in college.
“How can Minister Quinn allow this to happen? It seems that all his focus has been on spinning the figures to make this situation look more palatable than it is. But students don’t want to hear talk of processes and systems, they just want to know when they will actually get the money they are entitled to.
Deputy Ó Cuív also blasted Minister Quinn’s attempts to blame students for the high level of unprocessed and ‘incomplete’ grant applications as a “cheap shot”, adding that students from lower income families who are in need of State support to stay in college “are not the ones dragging their heels here”.
“It is the lack of certainty that is causing the most distress for students and their families. It is time for Minister Quinn to stop worrying about his public relations, and start being upfront with students about when exactly they will see their grants. I am calling on him to immediately state how many students in Galway and across the country will actually receive a grant before Christmas.”