“The Higher Education Grant Scheme for 2011/2012 has now been launched. I would like to encourage third level students to apply for the Student Grant scheme. For eligible students, the Student Grant is a wonderful way to help cover the various costs of their education” said Kildare North TD, Anthony Lawlor.

The maintenance grant is available for those students who meet the key criterion of family and/or personal income, although there are some other conditions that will determine one’s eligibility. For example, students on part-time courses, Access or foundation courses in higher education institutions, and short courses are not eligible for a Student Grant.

However, it is important to note that arising from Budget 2011 there are changes taking place to the Student Grant Scheme for anyone considering applying:

1: Reduction in overall rates of grant

• A reduction of 4% is to be applied to the rates of all student grants since January 2011

• This reduction applies to all existing grant holders and to new grant holders alike.

2: Qualifying distance criterion for non-adjacent rate of grant

• The qualifying distance criterion for entitlement to the higher non-adjacent rate of grant (distance from home to the higher education institution) has been changed from 15 miles (24 kilometres) to 45 kilometres and applies to all students.

• The implementation date is the start of the 2011-2012 academic year.

3: Automatic entitlement of mature students to non-adjacent rate of grant.

• The automatic entitlement of mature students to the higher non-adjacent rate of payment has been removed.

• The implementation date is the start of the 2011-2012 academic year.

“The application process for 2011-2012 is now open, and I would encourage anyone interested to apply as early as possible. Students in Kildare can now also apply online or through the normal process of contacting the Higher Education Section of Kildare County Council. Online applications and more detailed information regarding eligibility and conditions can be found on the Student Finance website, www.studentfinance.ie”, concluded Anthony Lawlor TD.