We provide our clients with comprehensive practical and legal advice on a range of student grant refusal decisions
Student Grant Appeals and High Court Applications
The Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) has received almost 10,000 applications for a Student Grant already this year. Due to the impact of Covid-19, it is anticipated that more students will apply for financial support this year. The Student Grants Scheme for the 2020/2021 academic year opened on Friday 24th April 2020.
Student Grant Appeal
If your application for a student grant is not successful, it is possible to appeal the decision of SUSI. If an Applicant is not satisfied with the decision on their grant, they can appeal the decision to the Appeals Officer in the Grant Awarding Body within 30 days. The Appeals Officer must make a decision within 30 days. A Notice of Appeal Form is available from SUSI or your local authority/educational training board upon request.
Appeal to the Student Grants Appeals Board
If the Appeals Officer upholds the original decision, you may then appeal to the Student Grants Appeals Board. The Student Grants Appeals Board was established under the Student Support Act 2011. The Board comprises of a Chairperson and six ordinary members all appointed in their individual capacities based upon their knowledge and expertise. The Board reviews appeals from Applicants under the 2011 Student Grants Scheme onwards in relation to the decision on their grant application.
A online student grant appeals process has been introduced for all appeals to the Student Grants Appeals Board. Online appeals to the Board may be submitted through the following website www.studentgrantappeals.ie
Appeals must be submitted online within 30 days from the date of the letter from the Appeals Officer in SUSI. Additional information and documentation can be submitted through the online system.
The Student Grants Appeals Board has 60 days in which to make a determination on an appeal. The Applicant will be informed in writing of the Appeals Boards decision. The role of the Board is to determine whether the terms and conditions relating to the Student Grant Scheme and associated legislation were applied correctly.
The Board does not have any discretion to deviate from the provisions of the Student Grant Scheme, the Student Support Regulations or the Student Support Act. The Appeals Board can only consider whether the conditions of the Student Grant Scheme have been applied correctly by the awarding authority and the Appeals Officer in determining the Applicant’s eligibility for a grant under the scheme.
If an Applicant is not satisfied with the decision of the Appeals Board, the law provides for an appeal to the High Court against the decision on a specified point of law.
Appeal to the High Court on a point of Law
An Applicant cannot appeal a refusal of the Appeals Board directly to the High Court. The Applicant must firstly apply to the Student Grants Appeals Board for leave to appeal in accordance with Section 21(6) of the 2011 Student Support Act. There is no apparent time limit in the Act or the Regulations for such an application for leave to appeal or an application appealing a refusal of leave to appeal.
Once the Appeals Board issues a letter for leave to appeal to the High Court on a point of law, the application must be made to the High Court within 21 days of the date of the letter granting leave. Sinnott Solicitors Dublin and Cork has experience in advising students of potential appeals to the High Court on a specified point of law.
A number of our client’s have been successful in appealing refusals of the Student Grants Appeals Board to the High Court on a point of law. Sinnott Solicitors Dublin and Cork can examine the Student Grants Appeals Board decision in order to advise as to whether the decision could be appealed to the High Court on a specified point of law.
An example of one such case that Sinnott Solicitors Dublin and Cork has taken to the High Court concerns the issue of estrangement. In that particular case, the Applicant’s Grant Application was refused on the basis that the Appeals Board were not satisfied that the Applicant was estranged from his parents and thereby unable to obtain the financial assistance of his parents in pursuit of the Applicant’s education. Upon examination of the Board’s decision, it became apparent that the guidelines set out in respect of estrangement were potentially ultra vires the scheme as those guidelines appeared to equate “estrangement” with criminality, abuse, dysfunctionality, anti-social activity etc. The ordinary meaning of estrangement is one of separation or distance and by requiring documentation from professionals such as a social worker or a Garda ignored the fact that an Applicant could be estranged without being the victim of crime, neglect or domestic abuse. Sinnott Solicitors Dublin and Cork considered that it would be very compelling evidence of estrangement but that those matters of themselves should not be the only acceptable evidence.
In that particular case, Sinnott Solicitors Dublin and Cork requested leave of the Student Grants Appeals Board to appeal the matter to the High Court on a point of law. The case resulted in a successful outcome for the Applicant. The decision of the Appeals Board was quashed. The Applicant re-appealed the decision to the Student Grants Appeals Board successfully.
The above is just an example of a case where the Applicant successfully appealed the refusal of SUSI and the Student Grants Appeals Board to deem the Applicant eligible for a student grant.
Many students are not aware that they can appeal the matter to the High Court on a specified point of law and indeed many students cannot afford to take such measures. It is our advice to any student that is refused a student grant that that student should appeal any refusal if they are of the opinion that SUSI have not made the correct decision. If the Applicant appeals that decision to the Student Grants Appels Board and if that appeal is subsequently refused, then the Applicant should take advice from a Solicitor as to whether there are sufficient grounds to seek leave of the Board in order to appeal the matter to the High Court on a specified point of law.
Sinnott Solicitors Dublin and Cork provide such a service and with the assistance with specialist Counsel, we can examine whether an Applicant could potentially appeal a refusal decision to the High Court on a specified point of law. If you have been refused by SUSI and subsequently by the Student Grants Appeals Board, then you may wish to obtain further legal advice as to whether your case could be worthy of a High Court challenge.