Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD with MTU President Maggie Cusack and MTU Students Laura Oates and Jasmine Kiely on a recent visit to MTU’s Cork campus. Photo: Darragh Kane

Maintenance grants boost for students

A significant package of supports for third level students and researchers has been confirmed by the Government.

The package, announced this month by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD, will allow for:

- Increases of up to €342 in maintenance grants from this week forward.

- The re-introduction of maintenance grants worth up to €2,384 to eligible post-graduate students for the first time in 13 years.

- A €3,000 increase in the stipend for PhD researchers funded by the Irish Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland.

The increases will take effect this week with a goal to put money back in people’s pockets as students and their families prepare for the return to college.

Commenting on the announcement, Minister Harris said the increases will be very important for families across the country who have been impacted by the rising cost of living.

“This investment, made as part of a wider package of supports in Budget 2024, will see eligible students receive an increased student maintenance grant,” said the minister.

“For some that can mean a total of €342 between now and May and a total increase of €615 in their grant rate for the year. For others, it will see the return of post-graduate maintenance grants at all levels for the first time since the economic crash.

“This will put €2,384 into the pocket of those postgrads who will become eligible for the highest rate of increase between now and May,” added Mr Harris.

This cost of education package is in addition to the €1,000 reduction in the student contribution fee for eligible undergraduate students.

Minister Harris also announced a once-off increase to the Student Assistance Fund of €1,476,541 million bringing the total investment to over €19 million. The once off increase to the Student Assistance Fund will provide additional financial support to eligible full or part-time students who are experiencing financial difficulties due to the cost of living while attending college and brings the total available funding for the 2023/24 academic year to over €19 million. Welcoming the package, Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North West, Aindrias Moynihan, said it will directly help students and families in Cork.

“The careful and effective management of the public finances has ensured that we are in a position to increase the support available to help students in this academic year,” said the deputy. “I know this package will be of huge assistance to students and their families across Cork that are faced with financial difficulties due to the cost of living while attending college,” he added. Minister Harris continued: “I am conscious of the fact that the cost of attending college has increased and this extra funding will support students who are experiencing financial trouble while attending higher education institutions.

“It is a valuable assistance for students in need of help with either temporary or ongoing financial difficulties and can be used towards their rent, childcare costs, transport costs, and books/class materials,” he added.