Income the Fairest Way to Assess Eligibility for 3rd-level Assessment

IFA President John Bryan has said the fairest way to determine if students are eligible for a 3<sup>rd</sup>-level education grant is to use income only, and he again called on the Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn to exclude productive assets in his review of 3rd-level education grants.

Mr Bryan said the unprecedented weather events of the last 12 months illustrate the volatility in farm incomes, and also highlight the dangers of imputing an income to a farm family based on the value of their land holding.

John Bryan said pursuing a model based on the inclusion of productive assets in determining eligibility is totally unacceptable. He said it would make it even more difficult for children from low-income farm families to get to college if this asset test were applied. “Minister Quinn has given us an assurance in the past that he did not want to see the children of farm families deprived of the opportunity to attend third-level. The best way to avoid this would be to drop the idea of a productive asset test”.

Mr Bryan said, “The existing method of assessment of self-employed income for the maintenance grant already disallows a number of expenses that are included in income tax computation. To include productive assets in the maintenance grant assessment would further discriminate against the self-employed, including farmers. These assets are required by self-employed businesses to generate income, and are not a measure of additional ability to pay”.

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