Middle school graduates are getting ready to head for the ivory towers. But before that, they have to think about their financial situation. In order to ensure that none of them drop out of school due to lack of money, provincial education departments as well as institutions of higher learning are busy perfecting the student loan system.
It has long been the goal of the education departments to help students stay in school. East China's Jiangsu Province was the first one to make changes for the students' convenience. Since last year, students in Jiangsu can apply for loans from local credit cooperatives in their hometown instead of the cities where universities are. In this way, they can go through all the application procedures and then enter school without worries. On the other hand, this can greatly help banks, which are always congested at the beginning of a new semester. Other provinces, including Zhejiang, Henan and Liaoning have followed suit this year.
To further simplify the application and ratification process, new measures have been taken in many areas. In the past, one university could only cooperate with one bank. But now, banks have to compete to sign a contract with the same school. The competition often helps to enlarge the amount of the loan. Shanghai went one step further in putting the program on line.
By the end of June this year, over 760 institutions of higher learning had started the student loan project. Banks in China have ratified a total of 350,000 applications. Three billion yuan(over US$350 million) had been channeled into the program.
(CCTV August 21,2002)