A leading Cork charity has given more than €50,000 to students and their families who are struggling to keep up with the costs of third level education.
In less than three months, St Vincent de Paul has granted €52,000 in financial aid to students in Cork who need help covering the costs of college, according to SVP South-West regional coordinator Gerry Garvey.
“Third level costs are huge,” Mr Garvey told the Evening Echo.
“We’ve been running the fund for students over the last few years and the demand is growing. But I am convinced there must be hundreds of families that we are not getting to,” he added.
“Overall in 2016, SVP granted €380,000 in financial aid to students in Cork and Kerry and I would say approximately two-thirds of that was to students from Cork. I would say €250,000 was issued overall in Cork.”
Recently, SVP provided assistance to siblings in Cork who are attending college in Limerick. The family was struggling financially as their father had been made unemployed and is currently availing of a CE Scheme. Their mother is a homemaker, Mr Garvey said.
“The family couldn’t fund the costs of both of these students attending college in a different county and we were able to give them a good bit of support. The associated costs of students attending third level education are just too much for many parents, including those parents whose children receive a grant."
“But people seem to think you have to be really down on your luck or even homeless to apply for financial help from SVP,” Mr Garvey said.
Students are more likely to drop-out if they are experiencing financial difficulty, according to Mr Garvey.
SVP also looks to providing funding to families who have no experience with third-level education or where the oldest child is attending college as siblings are more likely to attend college if their sibling has graduated.
“Education and especially third level education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty. It comes back to the old adage - if you teach a man to fish, he will be able to feed himself for life. Third level education is absolutely key to unlocking the poverty trap.”
The SVP annual appeal is currently underway, with donation cards issued to households around the City.