China awarded 400 million yuan (about 55 million U.S. dollars) in state scholarships to 50,000 poor college students with outstanding academic achievements on Thursday.
Each student received 8,000 yuan (1,103 U.S. dollars), an amount nearly double that of previous years because of augmented government investment.
All the state scholarship fund was covered by the central budget, according to Chinese State Councilor Chen Zhili.
State scholarships, which were set up in 2002, originally provided 6,000 yuan each to 10,000 first-class scholarships winners, and 4,000 yuan to 35,000 second-class winners.
Chen said at the awarding ceremony held in Beijing the state scholarship was an important part of the country's assistance network to help poverty-stricken students.
To ensure education equality and the wholesome development of education, the government introduced an array of favorable policies to bail out poor students. These included scholarships, grants, student loans, tuition waivers and the work-study programs under which poor students helped out in libraries, teachers' offices or service departments to earn money.
The central and provincial governments will double the student aid program budget to 30.8 billion yuan. This is to provide financial aid to more college and vocational school students starting in September, according to the Ministry of Finance.
The program benefited about four million college students and more than 16 million vocational school students last year.
(Xinhua News Agency January 18, 2008)