The rise in the contribution charge announced in the budget leaves a bad taste in the mouth for many students. Fees are up €250 making it an even €3,000 to pay most college registration fees next year.
The Back To Education Allowance and the Student Grant scheme however have been left unaffected.
There has been no reversal of the government’s position on post-grad students who will continue to receive no assistance.
This budget has been seen by many as the government giving something back after the many years of austerity. In that vein there are other areas where small improvements have been made that may make life a little easier.
The USC rate has cut from the 2% rate to 1.5% and the 4% rate to 3.5%. If you earn below €12,000 a year you will be exempt from the charge. This means a little bit more money in the pocket of those that support themselves with part-time work
An Investment of €10m in college facilities for Institutes of Technology has also been announced. This will be spent on improving facilities and equipment.
If you live in the city and attend college while receiving the grant of Back To Education Allowance you will not be able to avail of the €500 tax relief on offer to those already receiving social protection.
The minister for education Jan O’Sullivan said “This Budget is set against the background of an improving economic situation…These are positive developments that will be built upon in the coming Budgets. “
The old faithful rise in cigarette prices has continued. A 20 pack will now be 40c more expensive, while large rolling tobacco pouches have gone up by 25c. Alcohol and fuel are unaffected by this year’s budget.
While many other people in the population have seen a more positive affect from the budget, the student population has a more subdued outlook from Tuesday’s news. The President of the Union of Students in Ireland Laura Harmon said: “Whilst we’re glad that no new cuts to student supports will be introduced in this budget, we’re not exactly breathing sighs of relief. The escalator on student contribution fees adds €250 more on to fees which are the second highest student fees in Europe, placing enormous financial pressure on students and families.”