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University grants rise by up to 3%

Government responds to rising cost of university by boosting payouts to about 450,000 students from modest backgrounds

THE GOVERNMENT is increasing the size of the grants it gives to almost half a million university students by up to 3% to help them cope with rising costs.

About 100,000 students from under-privileged backgrounds will be entitled to the 3% rise for this academic year. Another 350,000 students will see their grant grow by 1.5%.

Higher Education Minister Valérie Pécresse has also announced a 10% increase in the emergency help fund for students who are not eligible for a grant but are in urgent need of financial support. The two combined measures will cost €50m.

The size of the grants varies depending on how far a student’s chosen university is from their family home, and how many other children are in the family. Disabled students are eligible for additional help.

The move has been welcomed by France’s biggest student union, Unef, which last week published figures showing the cost of going to university was up 3.2% compared with last year, with rents up 8.3% in Paris.

However, Unef president Jean-Baptiste Prévost said students from middle-class backgrounds, who are not eligible for a grant, were those finding it the most difficult to pay for their studies.

Research by another union, Fage, found the average student would need to spend more than €3,000 in September travelling to campus, finding and moving into a flat and buying food and academic supplies.

Applications for next year’s round of grants open in mid-January and will be based on the income declared in a household’s 2008 tax return. More information is available at www.cnous.fr

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