Farmers may be means tested for student grant

Farm and business assets may be included in means testing for the student grant.

Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn has put forward proposals that would change the way students from farming backgrounds or those with self-employed parents would be allocated the grant.

Quinn’s proposal would see a  five-year review of assets owned by farmers and self-employed people whose children apply for a student grant this coming September.

Assets worth in excess of €750,000 would be included in the means test, on top of income earnings. This is because it was estimated a farm worth this much would generate an income of €41,000, the cut-off point for college grants.

It is reported that the Irish agriculture and food development authority Teagasc provided these figures but the body has denied this.

Other “non-productive” assets such as savings that are above €2,000 would also be included in the proposed means test.

The chairperson of DCU Socialist Party Derek McKenna told The College View that the party “believe that all students, regardless of their parent’s income, should receive a grant to cover their educational expenses”.

Chairperson of Labour DCU Sean Rooney said that his party would continue to campaign for every student who needs the grant to receive it. He said it was hard to know how the plan would affect DCU students if implemented.

Minister Quinn has been working to re-examine the grant scheme since he entered office in 2011. A spokesperson from the Department of Education said that the issue of introducing means testing would be decided collectively.

The spokesperson also pointed out that the decision to include the value of capital assets in means testing for the student grant was written into Budget 2012.

Aisling Kett

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