'If I don't get my grant I may have to drop out'
on 06/09/2013 00:00:00
But now she fears she might not make it beyond the first two months of study.
She previously got a grant through the VEC while a student at Bray Institute of Further Education. But she applied to Susi in May as she is now progressing to a higher- level course. She said her online application included confirmation that her parents are not married, but among the documents asked for in a second request from Susi was a marriage certificate.
She said she got a phone call from Susi asking about her mother's income status and was told that a cover note confirming she has no income and is a dependant adult, because Katy's father gets a disability payment, would meet the grant body's requirements.<
Katy said she returned any documents she was asked for by late July, believing she should get a decision within a month.
Instead, she got a letter from Susi on Aug 7 saying her application was cancelled because she left out details about her mother in her initial application. "I couldn't believe it, I included the cover note that the lady told me about on the phone and now my application was just cancelled," said Katy.
The letter said she could re-apply in a week, which she reluctantly decided to do, confident that things should move quickly. But technical difficulties meant Susi's online application system would not accept her claim.
"This kept happening, and every time I rang, they said someone would ring me in a couple of days, then a week would pass and I never got any communication," she said.
It was only after she posted a public comment on its Facebook page on Monday that she got any satisfaction - three people from Susi sent her messages in quick succession. Finally on Tuesday - four weeks after Susi cancelled her application - she was able to resubmit all the details she first supplied back in May.
"Their communication is very bad: staff need to be trained on customer service, many of the people I spoke to were very rude and very unhelpful. I made seven or eight phone calls and every time you ring you're constantly on hold, so each call is at least 12 minutes long," said Katy.
"I only have enough money to last until the end of October, and if I don't get the grant by then, I could have to drop out. I don't know how Susi can say things are improved, if my case is anything to go by," she said.
Susi said data protection law prevents it from commenting on individual cases. A spokesperson said the online application, supported by the declaration form signed by all parties to the application, form the legal basis on which Susi processes an application.
"If an applicant has provided incorrect or incomplete information this impacts on the legal status of the application. It must be cancelled and the applicant can make a new application," she said.
She said applicants are required to reconfirm that they have entered full and accurate data before moving on from each section of the online form.
"Before the applicant can reapply, Susi has to clear secure data in relation to the original application across its IT systems. This is to protect the integrity of both the Susi system and the applicant's details," the spokesperson said.