A 25 per cent increase in student grants and a reduction in third-level fees are among the measures being considered as part of the budget.
As the Irish Examiner reports, the Department of Higher Education has estimated the price of a number of significant changes to the student grants scheme, including increases in student grants which would see some people receive €1,279 more each year.
The Minister for Higher Education, Simon Harris will publish the annual options paper on reducing the cost of higher education today, which contains measures that will reduce the financial burden of going to college on families and students.
Some of the proposed measures include:
Adjusting income thresholds to qualify for the standard rate of student grant to take account of changes in real incomes over time.
The report finds increasing the threshold by €250 would cost the State €0.9 million while on the upper limit an increase of €1,000 in the threshold would cost €3.7 million and would see 4,700 extra students qualify for supports;
Reducing the qualifying distance to avail of the non-adjacent maintenance grant from 30km to 24km. This would cost an estimated €6m each year;
Increasing the post-graduate maintenance grant rates to the same level as the supports provided to undergraduates across all bands. This change would cost €8.6 million each year.
Mr Harris has already indicated that he would like to see some reduction in student fees as part of this month’s budget.
The paper puts forward a number of options in relation to this which would have varying levels of cost associated with them.
A flat reduction of €250 bringing student fees down to €2,750, for example, would cost the taxpayer €21.3 million.
A €500 cut in the fee would cost €42.7 million, while a €750 reduction would cost €64 million.
The final option provided is a €1,000 cut, bringing fees down to €2,000, which would need €85.4 million to introduce.
An alternative option to across-the-board fee reductions, may be to consider an increase to the Susi student grant budget, this would make more people eligible for the full or half rate student contribution grant.
Meanwhile, increasing the non-adjacent maintenance grant rates, which have been identified as a priority in a review of the student grant scheme, by 25 per cent would cost €11.24 million next year, with the full year cost coming to €25.29 million.
This measure would benefit around 32,000 students.