The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has welcomed the new online system for student grants launched earlier today. The new central agency, SUSI, is a much welcomed development and will speed up the processing and issuing of grant payments. However, USI says any attempt at reform must include the provision of adequate financial assistance for those families struggling the most.

The new centralised online system, one called for by USI for a number of years, will improve the service provided to students in receipt of a grant. Reforms include the provision of an online application process which will decrease the potential for incomplete applications. This comes on the back of years of unnecessary delays in the issuing of grants, causing significant hardship for families as they struggle to put a family member through college. The grant system has cried out for reform for years and the Minister is to be commended on introducing measures to assist thousands of students experiencing long delays with payments that have left many in serious financial difficulty.

USI President Gary Redmond said:

"I welcome today's improvement in the provision of financial assistance for students and families and I commend the Minister for acting upon USI's call for reform. I would urge students to visit www.studentfinance.ie as soon as possible to check if they are eligible for a grant and apply immediately.

It is important to note that leaving cert students do not have to wait until they receive their CAO offers in August and should apply now to ensure that they receive their grants on time.

The advice is simple, if you think you are going to college in September visit studentfinance.ie without delay."