More aid for students from impoverished families

Updated: 2013-08-25 23:56

By Zhao Xinying (China Daily)

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Students from impoverished families who cannot afford education expenses will have more financial support as the Chinese government and the public make extra efforts to provide assistance.

According to the China National Center for Student Financial Aid, students across the country received 112.6 billion yuan ($18.4 billion) in financial support for their studies, more than 70 percent of which came from central and local governments.

More than 84 million students received financial aid, and this is the first time the amount reached 100 billion yuan.

"We have set up a complete financial aid system that can cover students at different education stages, from kindergarten to postgraduates," said Zhang Guangming, director of the China National Center for Student Financial Aid.

"Our goal is to ensure that students from impoverished families can go to school," Zhang said.

Zhang also said the Ministry of Education is paying great attention to the enrollment of students from impoverished families, as the new semester begins for freshmen at universities and colleges.

A series of scholarships, stipends and loans will be provided to college students. Meanwhile, the ministry is requiring all universities and colleges to set up a "green channel" to help freshmen from poor families defer tuition payments and receive loans, Zhang said.

Some universities and colleges are also taking their own steps to provide financial assistance.

Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, for example, has set up an online community called "ihome", where freshmen can communicate with sophomores and seniors about problems or difficulties they encounter before their enrollment in August.

"We give the account and password of 'ihome' to all our new students in their admission letter, so they can get the information ahead of time," said Cheng Jiwei, a top official of the university.

Cheng said the university admitted more than 3,800 freshmen this year, and around 2,400 of them have logged on to the online community.

"We paid great attention to those who never log on," Cheng said. "Because it may suggest that these students are from needy families or remote areas, and they don't have the equipment to get online."

Zhang Songyang, a freshman majoring in computers at Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, came from a rural family in Nanyang, Henan province. He said his family was thrilled when he was admitted to the university, which is well known among science students.

But the university's annual tuition fee of 5,500 yuan is too much of a burden for his family.

Zhang tried to earn money on his own by taking a part-time job, but only made 1,400 yuan.

The university noticed that Zhang did not log onto the online community and contacted him.

"A teacher called to instruct me how to use the 'ihome' system and how to get help from the 'green channel'," he said. "I have been admitted without paying tuition immediately, got a loan of 2,000 yuan for living expenses with no interest, and a stipend is also on the way."

Cheng said more than 100 freshmen at the university have received various forms of assistance, including financial aid, through the "green channel".

Zhang said he now feels relieved and has nothing to worry about. "My current concern is to adapt to college life as soon as possible," he said. "As the university will provide work-study programs in the future, I will have many chances to pay back my loan."