Scholarship

TESTIMONY. “I picked as much as eat in Aix”, the federal government is launching a reform of scholarships for precarious college students

The national consultation on the reform of the university scholarship system will start next October. The student union and associations emphasize the urgency of strengthening aid for the most uncertain.

My scholarship is €486, accommodation costs me €400. My rest to live takes the tariff!”, manages to joke with Clément, a fellow in Aix-en-Provence since 2015.

In seven years of study, from the trilingual diploma in Foreign or regional languages, literatures and civilizations (LLCER) after graduating from Sciences Po Aix, he saw his standard of living steadily decrease.

While the government deals with the sensitive issue of scholarship reform in this new school year, a student has his own idea for improvements to this breathless system.

“Grants should be at least indexed to the poverty line, suggests Clement. Do we make a difference, I am €700 away from the poverty line with my scholarship”. Today, the poverty line in France is set at 1102 euros.

My first year at university, I was in Cité U, I had a 9 m2 apartment that cost me €80 a month after APL (public housing allowance). But after a while, you are no longer eligible for Cité U, so I had to decide to take roommates. To pay less for rent, I went to Marseille. Except that every morning I lose time in transport to get to Aix.”

Between residential kitchens and rising prices, students’ purchasing power has only diminished in the face of a fixed stock market.

To survive, he multiplies small jobs, such as teaching language classes and occasional translation missions. This brings him fluctuating additional income. But he can’t bring himself to take a student contract for 25 hours because, according to him, “it’s the best way to miss your studies. That’s 25 hours spent not revising.”

Sometimes buying textbooks is unnecessary.

Like other insecure students, Clément does not have enough food. “For a whole year I ate one meal a day, even one every other day. I went to Aix to eat. I negotiated with the merchants to give me a loan. When I went to apply for emergency assistance from CROUS, they asked me for supporting documentation. It’s humiliating.”

Therefore, there is no emergency aid, and no food baskets distributed by the various student associations of Aix-Marseille University. “The simple fact that we go to distribution, we derive our poverty. It keeps bringing us back to our state,” laments the student.

This poverty constantly forces him to separate the necessary from the superfluous. “But sometimes buying textbooks is unnecessary,” reminds Clement.

With regard to the opening of national consultations for the reform of the stock exchange system, student associations would like their demands to be heard. “We are poorly represented in the consultation process”laments Mylène Schroer, Secretary General of the Aix-Marseille Interasso Federation (FAMI).

Organization, affiliated FAGE is not a member of the French Youth Forum, the only organization that will participate in the debates that will be led by the Ministry of Education and Research in October.

In its latest report from August 2022, FAMI quantifies the increase in re-entry costs. Education is becoming more and more expensive for students. Back-to-school costs increased by 2.83% for a student from Marseille.

To prevent students from choosing between eating and studying, associations at Aix-Marseille University organize food distribution.

The Aix-Marseille Interasso Federation (FAMI) has opened three solidarity grocery stores in Marseille: in Aix, Luminy and Saint Jérôme. “We distributed more than 47 tons of food and hygiene products and 1,000 food baskets,” details by Mylène Schroer.

The same dire observation about student insecurity from Lyes Belhadj, UNEF administrator at Crous University of Aix Marseille, who saw between “500 to 1,000 students per week” come to the Syndicate distributions on the Saint Charles, Luminy, Saint Jérôme, Aix-Schumann and Avignon campuses.

For the student union, it is urgent to establish a universal student salary or a monthly allowance that is separated from the parents’ income.

“But also local authorities, whose skills these are, must participate in reducing student insecurity. For example, by setting a €1 meal for non-scholarship students and free for scholarship students. The departments and the region would split the difference to be paid, knowing that a meal at Crous costs 3.30 euros“, Lyes Belhadj projects.

To this day, the awarding of scholarships is based on social criteria, a system managed by 26 regional centers for university and school work (Crous) since 1995. The consultation, led by Higher Education Minister Sylvie Retailleau, aims to redefine financial aid for access to higher education.

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