Mayo Fianna Fáil Deputy Dara Calleary has said any changes to the assessment for third level grants must not discriminate against farming families and self-employed workers. Dep Calleary said the conflicting reports from ministers about plans to include capital assets in the means-testing for student grants are causing great distress among farming and self-employed families.
“This is a huge issue for families who are running their own business, be it farming or otherwise, who are extremely worried about how they will afford to put their children through college,” said Dep Calleary.
“Two years into the term of this Government, and these families still have the threat hanging over their heads that they will soon lose their entitlement to a third level grant. Ruairí Quinn, since he was appointed Minister for Education, has been pursuing these unfair changes as part of what I believe to be an anti-rural agenda. He has been insulting to farmers, suggesting that some farmers actually ‘manipulate’ their income so they could avail of grants. This is deeply unfair and totally untrue.”
The Ballina based TD added: “The Minister’s answer has been to propose that the value of land or a business asset be included in the means-testing for student grants, as well as the income generated from that land or asset. This will give a totally inflated view of that family’s income or wealth. In many cases, they will lose their grant entitlement and will be unable to afford the cost of third level education for their children.
“This is wrong and it cannot happen. And the conflicting reports from Fine Gael representatives about the changes coming down the line are only adding to the confusion and distress. Farming and self-employed families do not want to hear tough talking – all they want is a guarantee that they will not be unfairly hit with cuts to student grants from next year. I am again appealing to the Government to do the right thing, recognise that these proposals discriminate against farmers and self-employed workers and scrap them immediately.”