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Monday, 04 April 2011 14:27

MAIN SOURCES OF FINANCING THE EDUCATION OF STUDENTS IN POLAND

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Dr. Wojciech Misterek,

Maria Curie-Skłodowska University

Main sources of financing the education of students

in Poland

The article referred to the four sources of acquiring finances by students. They are: parents’ income, students’ employment (temporary or permanent), repayable means from financial institutions, financial help of the state.

Another common source of supplementary means for financing education are grants, especially merit-based scholarships. The research has also shown that the interest in financing studies by means of student loans is relatively low.

Key words: education, students, source of financing, student loans, grants.

There are four sources of acquiring finances by students, the principal and basic one being parents’ income or child support and family pension. For majority of students, especially the young ones, it is parents who guarantee financial support and pay for all the expenses connected with the education of their children due to the fact that better education means higher chance for a promising professional career.

Students’ employment is an alternative to the financial means coming from parents. For some students it is just a way of supplementing the budget and increasing the expense capacity, for some others it is the key source of financing. The latter situation refers mainly to extramural students who often have their own families and try to improve their situation in the job market. It should be emphasized that in this case studying becomes a burden not only for the budget but also for everyday life. Therefore, these students will most probably choose extramural or evening classes. It is worth mentioning here that in some single cases employment increases the chances of getting financial means for studies. Some employers, taking care of professional development of their employees, decide to finance all or some of the expenses connected with education. Unfortunately, this form of financing education is not as popular as in the United States or Western Europe.

The third source is repayable means from financial institutions received periodically for the time of continuing education. Student loans were introduced in 1998 and are provided by commercial banks with an interest rate subsidized by the national budget. They let students get financial support for the time of their studies, which cannot be longer than 6 years though. The loan is paid for 10 months in an academic year, and the loan tranche is 600 PLN. Repayment starts two years after graduating and lasts at least twice as long as the time of taking the loan. The interest rate of a student loan is very attractive, amounting to the half of the discount rate of the National Bank of Poland. Additionally, the students with outstanding academic achievements are entitled to apply for loan forgiveness. It concerns 20 % of the borrowers who belong to the group of the best 5 % of graduates of a tertiary institution. In some special cases the loan can be partially or fully forgiven due to difficult life situation [5]. For some students the loans are the only chance of getting money for financing their studies. For some others they are only the way to supplement the means coming from their own work or parents. However, it must be remembered that the students using a repayable source of financing education treat it as a future investment enabling them to find a job that will let them earn their living and generate surpluses for the repayment of the loan.

The fourth source of financing education is the financial help of the state. We can distinguish two forms of support here: means-tested and merit-based. A maintenance grant is given to a student in a difficult financial situation after submitting an application to a tertiary institution. The height of income for a student applying for a maintenance grant is established by the rector in agreement with the student council, but the agreed height of monthly income in the student’s family cannot be lower than 351 PLN and higher than 572 PLN nett [6]. It means that each applicant whose monthly family income is not higher than 351 PLN is entitled to receive a maintenance grant. It is worth mentioning here that together with the change of regulations in the recent years this form of support is directed at the students of both public and private institutions. The popularity of maintenance grants among young people is confirmed by the information provided by the Central Statistical Office, according to which 22,221 students in the Lublin voivodeship used this form of financing. 13,640 of them were the students of public institutions, and 8,581 were the students of nonpublic institutions [7].

Additionally, a student is entitled to apply for an accommodation grant by virtue of living in a student hostel or some other building if daily commuting makes it impossible or difficult for a person to study. In case of bad financial situation it is possible to apply for a meals grant [8]. Both forms of support are as popular as the maintenance grant, which is proved by the fact that in the Lublin voivodeship itself 7244 students took the accommodation grant and 17 445 students took the meals grant in 2007 [9].

There are two types of merit-based scholarships: for outstanding academic achievements and for sports career. The value mean of the academic achievement and the types of sports competitions that qualify for the merit-based scholarship is established by each tertiary institution [1]. In the academic year 2007/2008 in the Lublin voivodeship 11,798 used this form of support, mainly for outstanding academic achievements and only 210 people qualified for the scholarship for their achievements in sport [10].

Moreover, the best students in Poland can apply for the Ministry’s grants for academic and sports achievements. Although this form of support is financially attractive, few students are entitled to it: in the academic year 2007/2008 1,055 students were given grants for academic achievements, and 215 students were given grants for their sports career [2].

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