The timing is timely. While many students marched against the pension reform, Tuesday, March 28, the government announced, the next day, a revaluation of scholarships, without waiting for the overhaul of the calculation methods already promised. This must be clarified in a second step, probably by the summer. “A structural reform takes time and could not come into force for the start of the 2023 school year,” the ministry said. This is why we wanted to make the first improvements now. »
The boost amounts to 500 million euros, the largest increase in ten years, says the Ministry of Higher Education. It should make it possible to increase the amount of all scholarships by €37 per month, whatever the level, and allow “35,000 students from the middle classes” to become beneficiaries. For this, the executive undertakes to correct certain threshold effects.
How to calm student anger? Because it rumbles while the effects of inflation, especially on food products, weigh heavily on budgets. But today the scholarships, the amount of which is very low in France – from €108.40 to €596.50 per month – are not indexed to inflation. They therefore dropped out, condemning many students to depend on food aid.
Also, the ministry’s announcements are welcomed as a necessary but not sufficient first step by Fage, the majority student union. Its president, Étienne Matignon, welcomes a boost which represents “the equivalent of ten to fifteen years of annual scholarship increases”, but he is still waiting for the whole system to be overhauled.
Starting with the amounts. They are not enough to keep your head above water, illustrates Thomas, a 4th year speech therapy student in Amiens. The young man, a tier 4 scholarship holder, receives €421.70 per month for this, plus €175 of APL. He only manages thanks to a student job obtained within the framework of a civic service. “The problem is that today, between my courses and my job, I work more than 50 hours a week. It will not be possible to continue like this when I will be in master. I will have no choice but to quit my job if I want to have time to study”, anticipates the one who lives to the nearest euro and “sets aside as much as possible”.
Another file on the table: the situation of young people whose families are too rich for them to be eligible for scholarships, but too poor to provide them with decent living conditions. The recent failure of a bill that allowed all students to benefit from a €1 meal at the Crous was seen by these young people as a provocation. At this stage, the government nevertheless remains firm and assumes a redistributive reform of scholarships, that is to say benefiting only the poorest. The aid could nevertheless be calculated in a way “closer to the real needs of families”, promises the ministry. The calculation by income brackets could be abandoned, and the reference year changed: the income of the current year could be taken into account, and no longer those of year N-2.