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US$24 Million Scholarship to Help Poor Students

A 200-million yuan (US$24 million) annual national scholarship for outstanding university students from poor families has been set up by government chiefs.

Jin Liqun, vice-minister of finance, said Tuesday the scholarship will be provided directly from central government coffers.

A total of 45,000 university students will benefit from the scholarship each year, Jin said.

The first class scholarship of 6,000 yuan will be given to 10,000 students, with the remaining 35,000 students receiving 4,000 yuan (US$480) annually.

Scholarship winners will be exempt from yearly tuition fees.

The scholarship differs from student loans, which were designed to support the studies of students from poor families by financial means, as it does not require repayment.

The Chinese Government began offering scholarships to university students from poor families in 1987, but this is the first time the scholarships have been upgraded to a routine system.

Zhang Baoqing, vice-minister of education, said such special financial assistance will help more students from poor families to concentrate on their studies when at college.

"If they excel in their studies, the government will pay for their living expenditure," Zhang said.

Students can apply for the national scholarship in September each year, and the education ministry will consider the applications before making its decisions by the end of December.

Ministry statistics reveal some 20 percent of 13 million students at domestic universities are from poor families.

(China Daily May 22, 2002)

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