The body that awards third-level grants has said it has made a number of improvements to the system that left thousands of students waiting months to have their applications processed last year.

Student Universal Support Ireland, known as SUSI, opened its online application system four weeks earlier this year.

It also has a new system for grant renewals and a more simplified application process.

SUSI received almost 70,000 grant applications last year.

By the end of December 2012, 27,000 grants had been awarded (70%). Almost 37,200 grants had been awarded by April 2013 (92%).

Five applications have yet to be fully processed.

Head of operations at SUSI Alan Murphy said these improvements will ensure the problems that beset the organisation last year will not be repeated.

He called on all new students planning to go to college this year to register and submit their grant applications through its website.

Mr Murphy said SUSI has already received 65,000 out of an expected 95,000 applications.

The first payments to students are due to be made in October.

The closing date for applications is Thursday.