Huge hit for one mature student
BREDA RIDGEWAY is fuming.
A mother of three, this 45year-old mature student from the Ballagh has worked out that she'll be €72 a week worse off because of this budget.
When she hears Brian Cowen say that the people 'earning the most are paying the most' on radio soundbytes she gets so annoyed she could spit.
Having worked all her life, Breda returned to education this year at Carlow IT and is full time studying for a degree in social care. But she has three children – one in Trinity College studying law, one in second level and one in primary school.
Having lost her job in auctioneering in 2009, and separating from her husband, she is solely responsible for paying her mortgage, feeding and clothing her family, and trying to educate herself.
She's done this so far through her lone parent's allowance, a €3,100 maintenance grant, and a further top-up grant of just over €3,000 (because she lived more than 24km from college). This money has proven vital.
Looking through the Budget small print, she found that she will no longer qualify for the top-up grant as they've extended the qualification to students who live 45km or more away from college, and she will also see 4 per cent shaved off her maintenance grant. Couple that with the €8 drop on her weekly lone parent's allowance and €20 per month from her child benefit, and she has worked out that she'll be €72 a week worse off.
'Since Wednesday I have made the shocking discovery that the budget cuts will mean a reduction to me personally as a lone parent trying to achieve a third-level degree of €72 per week. Brian Cowen's assertions that higher-paid people are paying most are quite frankly false – as this proves. The ability for recently-made-redundant mature students to attend college was based largely on the ability to receive the full maintenance and top-up grant,' she said.
Breda believes that Carlow IT's Wexford Campus will see a lot of mature students drop out as a result of this change.
Breda says she doesn't want to be a long term welfare prospect. By re-training, applying herself and earning a degree, she will be able to once again re-enter the workforce.