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While millions of college candidates wait anxiously for letters of acceptance, a new policy to further improve the State financial aid system for college and vocational students will pave the way for poor students to realize their dreams.


The new policy will be launched this autumn, when universities and colleges open their doors to new students.


In June, some 9.5 million students sat for this year's national college entrance examination. About half will be accepted at institutions of higher education.


According to the new policy, some 15.4 billion yuan (US$2.01 billion) will be jointly invested by central and local finance authorities to aid college students starting this fall. By the end of 2008, the amount will double, with the total financial aid from different sources reaching 50 billion yuan (US$6.54 billion). At that time some 4 million college students and 16 million secondary vocational school students will benefit from the State financial aid system annually.


Since 1999, China has been making major efforts to establish a national program to help poor students attend university. By March last year, the State loan system had assisted 2.3 million college students from poor families.


Chinese families have to pay about 8,000 yuan (US$975) a year for their children's college education. This means that farmers and poor urban workers have to save for years for their children's college expenses or, more likely, see their children shut out of higher education and the opportunities that go with a degree.


The new policy will create a greatly improved multi-channel financial aid system for higher education with contributions from the central government, local governments schools and social sectors. In the past, little was contributed at the local level.


The policy will also be a blessing to a much larger group -- students in secondary vocational education. The new policy offers various types of financial support to 90 percent of these students each year.


As a result, the expanded financial aid will contribute to the development of the country's secondary vocational education.


An important channel to train talented people, secondary vocational education cultivates the skilled workers so greatly needed by our society. Speeding the development of vocational education contributes to improving our nation's quality while helping alleviate the enrollment pressure on colleges and universities.


(China Daily July 3, 2007)

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