As Donegal students prepare this week for college registration, Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Charlie McConalogue has said third level institutions must not to make the process of registration difficult for students who are still awaiting approval for their maintenance grants.
Deputy McConalogue explained, “This time of year can be difficult for families budgeting for the academic year. It’s particularly bad for third level students this year after the Government’s decided to increase registration fees from €1,500 last year to €2,000 this year.
“I want to remind students who are registering for their course in the coming days that their third level institution has been required by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) not to block the registration of those awaiting confirmation of approval for maintenance grants or to require them to pay the fee up front while they are waiting on their grant to be processed.
“I am aware that last year, many third level institutions put pressure on students whose grant applications were delayed to pay registration fees up front or else deferred their full registration until such time as they could produce evidence letters of approval. This meant that many families were struggling to pull together the money for the registration fee while waiting for their grant application to be processed and in other cases students not being able to register fully until their grant came through.
“Up to half of all students who applied for a maintenance grant this year are still waiting for their applications to be processed. But the HEA has directed all third level institutions to facilitate such students and not to delay the registration of those who inform them that they have not yet received their grant approval. Any student who finds that they are not being allowed to register or are being pressured to come up with the registration fee while awaiting grant approval should make it clear to their institution should contact the HEA.
“The HEA has also requested all third level institutions to accommodate students who don’t qualify for a grant and may need the option of paying in instalments in order to meet the cost of the registration fees. Students who might need such a facility should ask their college about this.
“The start of a college year can be stressful financially and it is not acceptable that any third level institution would add to the pressures on students and their families by not following the directions they have received from the HEA in this regard,” concluded Deputy McConalogue.