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Know Your Rights: Financial supports for students

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The Student Grant Scheme is the main financial support scheme for students but there are other supports available, including:

* The Student Assistance Fund
* The Fund for Students with Disabilities

Student Assistance Fund

The Student Assistance Fund (SAF) provides financial support to full-time or part-time students in higher education who are experiencing financial difficulties. The SAF is available to help students with the following costs:

* Books and class materials
* Rent, heating and lighting bills
* Food
* Essential travel
* Childcare costs for students that are parents
* Medical costs
* Family difficulties, for example bereavement.

The SAF is designed to provide financial support in addition to the student grant. Tuition fees, registration fees, student loan repayments or any costs borne by your college are not covered by the SAF. Universities, Institutes of Technology and other approved colleges participate in the SAF scheme but the SAF is not available to students in further education or post-Leaving Certificate colleges.

Qualifying for the Student Assistance Fund

To qualify for the SAF, you must be a full-time or part-time student in a university, Institute of Technology or other approved college. You must be on a course leading to a higher education award (National Framework of Qualifications Level 6-10).

Rates

Funding amounts vary and will be decided by your college following an assessment process.

How to Apply

Students must apply for the SAF directly to the individual colleges. If you are in financial difficulty you should contact the Access or Student Services section in your college for more information on how to apply for the SAF. It is important to apply for funding as soon as you can. Some colleges have a closing date for applications. You should check with the Access Service or Student Services section of your college to find out when this is.

Your college will advise you on the documentation needed to support your application to the SAF. This may include proof of your own or your parents’ income and receipts for costs such as rent, bills or childcare. Applications are assessed by individual colleges and final decisions on awards may be taken by a small committee, including the Access Officer and Student Welfare Officer.

Fund for Students with Disabilities

The Fund for Students with Disabilities (FSD) is one of the main funding sources for students with disabilities. The fund ensures eligible students have the necessary help and equipment so that they can participate on an equal basis with other students. You may be entitled to support under the FSD even if you did not access college through the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE scheme).

The FSD Covers the Following Supports:

* Assistive technology equipment and software
* Non-medical helpers (for example, personal assistants or note takers)
* Academic or learning support
* Deaf supports including Sign Language Interpreters and Speedtext
* Transport support

Participating Colleges

The FSD is available to full-time or part-time students in universities, Institutes of Technology and other colleges, including UK and EU colleges. The FSD is also available to students in further education or Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) colleges. Funding is allocated to the college to support a student’s needs as decided by a Needs Assessment. The college is responsible for managing the funding and has full discretion on how the FSD is allocated.

Qualifying for the Fund for Students with Disabilities

To qualify for the FSD, you must fulfil the following conditions:

* Have a disability in one or more of the categories outlined below
* Meet the nationality and residency criteria outlined below
* Be a full-time or part-time student
* Have a verified need for specific supports in order to attend your chosen course.

Qualifying Disabilities

Disabilities that qualify under the FSD are:

* Autistic Spectrum Disorder
* Attention Deficit Disorder
* Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
* Blind or vision impaired
* Deaf or hard of hearing
* Developmental co-ordination disorder (dyspraxia/dysgraphia)
* Mental health condition (for example bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, clinical depression, severe anxiety, severe phobias, OCD, severe eating disorders and psychosis)
* Neurological condition
* Significant ongoing illness
* Physical or mobility
* Specific learning difficulties (dyslexia or dyscalculia)

Residence

You must have been resident in the State for three of the previous five years before your approved course commences to qualify for support under the FSD. If you do not qualify at the beginning of your course, it is still possible to meet this requirement during the course of your studies. This should be reviewed at the beginning of an academic year.

Nationality and Immigration Status

In order to get the FSD you must be a national of an EEA Member State or Switzerland, or have immigration status or leave to remain. You can read more detail on the nationality and residency criteria.

How to Apply

You cannot apply directly to the FSD, applications should be made on your behalf by your college.
You must register with the Disability Support Services in your college. You will need to show medical verification of your disability (for example, a consultant’s report). The college will then carry out a needs assessment to identify the appropriate supports required. You should contact the student services or disability office in your college for more information.

Other Financial Supports

Other financial supports for students include the Bursary for Care Experienced Young People is available, if you have had care experience of at least six months before your 18th birthday.

The 1916 Bursary Fund provides funding to encourage participation and success by students from disadvantaged backgrounds that are significantly under-represented in higher education.

The Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (DFHERIS) runs a number of scholarship schemes including, the Ernest Walton STEM bursary, the Professor William C Campbell Bursary Scheme, the All Ireland Scholarship Scheme and the European University Institute Scheme.

If you need further information you can call a member of the local Citizens Information Service in Kerry on 0818 07 7860. They will be happy to assist you and if necessary arrange an appointment for you. Kerry HELPLINE 0818 07 7860, Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm. Alternatively you can email on tralee@citinfo.ie or log on to www.citizensinformation.ie. The National Phone Service is available on 0818 07 4000 Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm.

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Is it a good time to sell your property?

By Ted Healy of DNG TED HEALY Recently published property outlooks are suggesting single digit growth in prices this year. The MyHome.ie quarterly report found the market had held up […]

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By Ted Healy of DNG TED HEALY

Recently published property outlooks are suggesting single digit growth in prices this year.

The MyHome.ie quarterly report found the market had held up better than evidence had suggested in 2022. The number of vendors cutting asking prices remained at low levels, while many house prices were being settled above asking prices.

However, the report warned that the resilience of the housing marking is set to be tested this year. It found annual asking price inflation slowed to six percent nationwide, meaning the asking price for the average home in Ireland is now €330,000.

There were 15,000 available properties for sale on MyHome.ie in the fourth quarter of the year – an improvement on the same time last year but still below pre-pandemic levels.

Average time to sale agreed was 2.7 months nationwide which the report said is indicative of a very tight housing market.

The report said it expects to see 28,400 house completions in 2022, exceeding its previous forecast of 26,500 finished units.

The author of the report, Conall MacCoille, Chief Economist at stockbrokers Davy, said it appeared the market had held up better than evidence had suggested.

“The number of vendors cutting their asking prices is still at low levels. Also, transactions in Q4 were still being settled above asking prices, indicative of a tight market,” he said.

Recent months had seen worrying trends in the homebuilding sector, with housing starts slowing, and the construction PMI survey pointing to the flow of new development drying up.

“We still expect housing completions will pick up to 28,400 in 2022 and 27,000 in 2023. However, the outlook for 2024 is far more uncertain. The Government’s ambitious plans to expedite planning processes are welcome although, as ever, the proof will be in the pudding,” he added.

Locally, and unsurprisingly, the lack of supply of new and second-hand properties remains the dominant issue. There has been very little new construction due largely to the rising cost of construction, labour, materials and utilities which in turn is putting pressure on the second hand market.

This market proved particularly strong in 2022 with active bidding experienced on the majority of house sales and a large proportion of guide prices being generally exceeded.

The detached family home end of the market is particularly strong with increased competition for a limited number of available well located family homes.

So, what lies ahead and is it a good time to sell your property?

The answer is a tight market with scarcity of supply being a factor. If selling now you will benefit greatly from a lack of supply of available homes (therefore less competition) provided your property is marketed correctly of course!

For anyone considering placing their property on the market, contact DNG Ted Healy 064 6639000 killarney@dng.ie for genuine honest advice on how to achieve the best possible price for your home.

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Tourism VAT rate should be “continued indefinitely”

A Kerry Fianna Fáil Councillor believes the current 9% tourism VAT rate should be continued indefinitely despite “the allegation that some hotels were not passing on the saving to its […]

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A Kerry Fianna Fáil Councillor believes the current 9% tourism VAT rate should be continued indefinitely despite “the allegation that some hotels were not passing on the saving to its customers”.

The reduced VAT rate of 9% was introduced by the Government in response to the challenges posed by COVID-19 to the hospitality sector.

“I believe a return to a 13.5% Tourism VAT rate would be counterproductive at this stage, to small and medium businesses that welcome visitors to our country and our county,” Councillor Michael Cahill said.

“Catered food is already charged at 13.5%, alcohol at 23% and accommodation presently at 9%. This sector is providing pretty decent returns to the Exchequer and should be supported. All parties in this debate, including the Government and accommodation providers, should review their position and ensure their actions do not contribute to ‘killing the Goose that laid the Golden Egg’.”

He explained that the tourism industry is “in a very volatile market”, as can be seen by the enormous challenges “posed by COVID-19 in recent years”.

“A grain of rice could tip the balance either way and great care must be taken not to damage it irreparably. We are all aware that the next six to 12 months will be extremely difficult for many businesses with the increase in the cost of oil and gas, etc,, and a return to the 13.5% VAT rate will, in my opinion, close many doors. If a minority are ‘price gouging’, then it should be possible to penalise them and continue to support the majority who offer value for money to our visitors.”

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