Reform of student grants in France, a major project

“Unreadable”, “inappropriate”, “inadequate”, “infantilizing” : student representative organizations do not have sharp enough words to describe the system of granting grants based on social criteria, which since 1995 has been managed by 26 regional centers for university and school work (Crous). The reform of the stock exchanges, which is considered very professional and has been postponed several times during the previous five-year period, is the first sensitive file that Sylvie Retailleau is about to open.

The consultation should begin in the first half of September, the Minister of Higher Education and Research announced during a hearing before the Senate Committee on Culture and Education on July 20. It should be implemented at local level and bring together all stakeholders, facilities, rectors, Crous, student organisations, local authorities and the voluntary sector. “Implementation will not be easy”specified the minister who expects “first impressions” at the beginning of the 2023 school year a “completion of the reform a little later”.

To deal with the topic of scholarships is to examine the living conditions of young people who have become insecure. The health crisis has revealed a harsh reality: you can be a student and still lack food. “If the queues at food outlets are always full, it’s a good thing that the grant system doesn’t allow us to accommodate”illustrated by Eléonore Schmitt, national secretary of the student union L’Alternative.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers More and more students in financial difficulties are turning to the distribution of food aid

Scholarships, which are allocated according to parents’ resources and expenses related to family characteristics, have eight levels, from the highest (€5,679 per year) to the lowest (€1,032 per year). In 2020-2021, 750,000 students received this financial aid (38.4% enrolled in courses approved by the Ministry for scholarships), an increase of more than 4% in one year. For pupils with the lowest resources, the increase reached 7%, according to the statistical note of the Ministry.

The middle layers are excluded

The main complaint against them is that the scholarships partially miss the mark. The distribution of amounts by level creates threshold effects and actually excludes the entire population from the middle class. “Slight variations in parental income can in some cases lead to significant variations associated with the transition from one level to another.noted the senatorial mission in a report on students’ living conditions in July 2021. For example, an income that changes from 22,500 euros per year to 22,501 euros will cause the grant to be reduced by 667 euros or 40% of its amount. »

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