Each year, many third level students rely on receiving Higher Education grants which, in effect, ensure they can attend third level education.

The grant is offered to those students whose parents may not be able to afford the costs of rent,food supplies etc. In essence, securing the student grant in a timely manner can be of paramount importance for many students, with parents and children alike dependent on the notion that the allocated funds will reduce the burden and allow the student to embrace college life without the mental strain of constantly struggling to make ends meet.

While the grant does reduce some of the financial strain, it should be noted by applicants that the process of applying for and being approved for the grant can in itself be quite strenuous.That is of course, unless the student is adequately prepared.

When applying for your grant it is important to remember that due to the sheer volume of applications received, the process may not be as speedy or efficient as you might like. Inevitably, there are massive amounts of bureaucracy involved which at times can feel infuriating.However, there are ways to ensure that your application is likely to be one of the first approved.   The first thing to do is to understand and have all the relevant documentation that you need for the grant. Gathering this information can prove somewhat arduous.You may for example have to find out your parents collective salaries for the past year, or in the case of a mature student, provide bank statements and a declaration of your income. It is vital that you furnish the relevant grant authority with EXACTLY the information they require.   Students are supplied with a list of requirements, but it is useful to contact a member of the authority just to confirm.Anecdotally, it would seem that different authorities require different amounts of information. For example, the present writer has had to furnish what is known as "a statement of oaths" to my grant authority in each of my three years in college.This is a document which can be received by an "oaths commissioner" sometimes at a cost of twenty euro. To my amazement, many of my classmates have never even heard of an oaths commissioner, much less given him money to sign a form.This is just one example how different authorities can ask for different information,depending on their location.   When you have fully gathered the relevant information, then is the time to submit to your local authority.It is recommended that you send all this information in one envelope .Sending the information in a drip-feed type manner can lead to confusion, and should one of your files be misplaced it can slow the process down still further.When you have sent the documentation, it is important you get confirmation that the authority has received it.Using registered post is also a means of ensuring you have proof of postage.   Finally, if you are concerned at the length of time your grant application is taking, you can contact the grant authority directly.The best way to do this is through email so that you have a record of all your correspondence. There is nothing more infuriating than speaking to one employee on the phone on a particular day, only to learn that your query is still stalled because the initial employee did not pass the message on.Having documented evidence of correspondence is a more efficient way of trying to move the process forward.   In summary, it is important to be patient when applying for your grant.The process can feel somewhat painstaking, but if you have the relevant documentation you can at least be certain that you have done all you can.Then it is a question of waiting, and if necessary putting pressure on your local authority to find out the status of your application. Again, some authorities are better than others at communicating this information. If you are still unsatisfied with the time it is taking you may be able to go one step further.   In my first year applying for my grant I did none of the above, with the result being that I still had not received my payment six months later. Having eventually secured all the documentation, my local authority continued to be somewhat evasive in telling me precisely when I could expect the grant. Finally, I decided to contact my local county councillor and shared my various difficulties with him.The following day I received confirmation of acceptance and had the cheque in my account the following week.