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Poor Students Satisfied with Assistance System

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The national assistance system for poor college students is getting more effective as proved by fewer phone calls to the hotline of the National Center for Student Assistance Administration.

"Poor college students and their parents are getting more satisfied with the national assistance system," said Ma Wenhua, deputy director of the administration, on Saturday.

The Ministry of Education launched the hotline in 2005 from every August 15 to September 15 ahead of the autumn semester. The hotline aims to offer help to students who want to go to university but can not afford the tuition.

Over the past three years, the hotline received 8,488 calls. Statistics show 62 percent of the calls were made to consult about the funding policy, while 38 percent (3,200 calls) complained local colleges had failed to abide by the rules to support the students.

Ma said, as for those complaints, the hotline team would report the problems to student assistance centers at the provincial level every five working days. Each complaint must be dealt with within one week.

Complaints were seen a year-on-year decrease from 2006 to 2008, as the proportion of such calls out of the total number accounted for 55 percent, 33 percent and 28 percent respective in the three years.

Ma said some poor families might still overlook what they should do to get support for their child. "Most of these students only found out they could not be accepted when arriving at universities. They could not hold up for long in a strange place with what they had at hand."

To ensure education equality, the government has introduced an array of favorable policies to help poor students, such as scholarships, grants, student loans, tuition waivers and the work-study programs under which poor students are helped out in libraries, teachers' offices or service departments to earn money.

Statistics show the government spent 29.3 billion yuan (about US$4.2 billion) last year to aid college students, up 7.6 percent from the previous year. Around 40 million persons of college students received the national aid.

The ministry pledged the government would ensure that no students drop out of colleges or universities because of poverty.

Among the 20 million students in the country's public and private universities and colleges last year, about 20 percent came from poor backgrounds, official figures show.

(Xinhua News Agency August 30, 2009)

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