More than 19,000 student grant applications have been made through an online system since it opened almost a month ago.
The Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) system will replace the need for grant applicants to deal with local councils or VECs over the next four years. It is open this year to those starting courses in the autumn.
With the Leaving Certificate over, the number of completed applications have risen to around 19,200. Around 21,500 others have registered and at least half the process has been completed by more than 13,000 of them, with 1,600 new registrations each day over the last week.
SUSI staff are encouraging almost 5,000 people who have registered but not yet started their application to do so as soon as possible, and suggest anybody thinking they or their child might be eligible should begin the process.
"We have around 40,000 people registered online already but applicants or anybody thinking of applying should remember they do not need to have selected their final college or course to apply for a student grant," a spokesperson said.
"We expect to get around 60,000 applications this year and if we get most in by the middle of July, we will be in a strong position to have most of those processed before the Leaving Certificate results come out in mid-August," he said.
The intention is that SUSI will make prompt and regular payment of grant instalments directly to bank accounts, eliminating delays.
Union of Students in Ireland president John Logue said they understand SUSI has been running smoothly. But he has heard that access staff at some colleges are unaware of the new requirements for first-time grant applicants to apply direct to SUSI instead of councils or VECs.
"The fact that people can submit copies of documents online is really going to speed up the process. This is good as it’s clear there will be a lot more people applying for grants for the first time this year," Mr Logue said.
However, the union remains concerned about the ability of some students to attend college after another 3% cut this year to the grant payments, bringing the reduction in the rates to 12% over the last three years.
New postgraduate students will no longer be eligible for grant support from the autumn, although some will still qualify to have their tuition fees paid or part-paid.
CAO figures last week showed that the number of college applicants has fallen by less than 1% on last year to just under 76,000.
SUSI staff are carrying out pre-assessments of each first-time grant application and will be notifying those who are eligible to proceed about which documents they need to submit.
Journalist: Niall Murray