Pupil scholarship reform in France, a serious challenge

“Illegible”, “inappropriate”, “insufficient”, “infantilizing” : student representative organizations do not have enough harsh words to describe the system of granting grants based on social criteria, which has been managed by 26 regional centers for university and school work (Crous) since 1995. The stock market reform, which is known to be very technical and was delayed several times during the previous five-year term, is the first sensitive file that Sylvie Retailleau will open.

Consultations 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 the local level, bringing together all interested parties, institutions, rectors, Crous, student organizations, local authorities and the voluntary sector. “Implementation will not be easy”specified the minister, who expects that “first strikes” at the beginning of the 2023 school year and “finalization of the reform a little later”.

Addressing the topic of scholarships means examining the living conditions of young people who have become insecure. The health crisis revealed a harsh reality: you can be a student and not have food. “If the lines at food distribution are always full, it’s a good thing that the grant system doesn’t allow us to meet the needs”illustrated by Eléonore Schmitt, national secretary of the student union L’Alternative.

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Awarded according to parents’ means and costs related to family characteristics, scholarships have eight levels, from the highest (5,679 euros per year) to the lowest (1,032 euros per year). In the period 2020-2021, 750,000 students received this financial aid (38.4% enrolled in courses authorized by the ministry to receive scholarships), an increase of more than 4% in one year. For students with the lowest resources, the increase reached 7 percent, according to the statistical note of the ministry.

Middle classes excluded

The main objection against them is that the scholarship partially misses the mark. The breakdown of amounts by levels creates threshold effects and effectively excludes the entire population from the middle class. “Small variations in parental income can, in some cases, lead to significant variations associated with moving from one level to another.he mentioned the senatorial mission in the report on students’ living conditions, in July 2021. For example, an income that changes from 22,500 euros per year to 22,501 euros leads to a reduction of the grant by 667 euros or 40% of its amount. »

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