Four ministries and government departments have agreed to raise the ceiling for national student loans granted to undergraduates and master’s and doctoral students, the Education Ministry announced on Aug 26.
The ministry also said on Aug 26 that college students from low-income families can apply for increases to their loans.
According to the new policy, an undergraduate student can apply for as much as 8,000 yuan ($1,300), while graduate students can apply for a maximum of 12,000 yuan. Since 2002, all students were only allowed to apply for a loan of 6,000 yuan each year.
Combined efforts from the ministry together with the Ministry of Finance, the People’s Bank of China and the China Banking Regulatory Commission led to the new arrangement.
Zhang Guangming, director of the China National Center for Student Financial Aid under the Education Ministry, said the change was made to meet the demand of students.
“The previous standard was implemented for more than a dozen years, and many students with financial difficulties said it was far from enough,” he said.
In 2013, 15 billion yuan in national student loans was provided to about 2.65 million students. Both totals are major increases from figures in 2012.
The higher ceiling for student loans became imperative this year after free postgraduate education for students who excelled in their studies was canceled nationwide, and meanwhile several provinces and regions, including Jiangsu and Guangdong provinces and the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, raised their college tuition.
“Under such circumstances, we made the change to ensure that no one is deprived of a higher education because of financial difficulties,” Zhang said.
Peng Ruishuang, a graduate student from Beihang University who applied for the national student loan for each of her four years as an undergraduate at the college, said she was glad to hear of the new plan.
At Beihang, Peng each year paid 5,500 yuan in tuition and 900 yuan for boarding.
“At that time, we (students with financial difficulties) wanted to apply for as much as possible, but 6,000 yuan was the limit,” said Peng.
“Now I think the situation will be better for students who need the loan.”
Chu Zhaohui, a senior researcher with the National Institute of Education Sciences, praised the move as “sensible and considerate”.
“It’s reasonable and necessary to do that, considering the financial situation of students from impoverished families and the change in the value of the renminbi,” he said.
“Raising the standard will, to some extent, help solve the financial problems of students from impoverished families,” Chu added.