Opinion

COLUMN: Breaking the Bank

By October 31, 2017 No Comments

By Diana Glebova

For many, the opportunity to come to Sciences Po was a no-brainer, but for others, the decision of going to college was a tougher choice. For many students, the opportunities created by attending a university are met with risky financial decisions, large loans that accumulate to life-long student debt, and unwarranted stress as they allocate their borrowed funds into tuition, rent, and weekly food supply.

It must be stated that Sciences Po is one of the most fair institutions in France in terms of its financial help from the state and scholarship opportunities and that its tuition price is up to an eighth of some private institutions in the United States.

Despite the scholarship opportunities provided by Sciences Po, from speaking with other students on campus it becomes apparent that these limited funds are not enough; especially for those that do not reside within the European Union.

At Sciences Po, there are two subcategories of financial award: EU national or non-EU national. If one is a national of the EU, the financial award of the student is decided with a sliding scale based on the income of the family and their financial assets. Additionally, EU nationals have the opportunity to be considered for the CROUS bursary fund.

For international students, the tuition is automatically set at the maximum, as no sliding scale is in place. Thus students who cannot afford the maximum tuition price are reliant on the Emile Boutmy scholarships available and perhaps an appeal to the administration. This lack of scholarship opportunities for students who cannot provide the 10,000 euro tuition every year coupled with other living expenses, poses a problem in finding a way to afford their secondary education.

Finding a bank loan is an option. But if  one chooses to seek a loan from the bank, problems arise if one’s family does not have a high enough income for eligibility. Additionally, this is not an option for most students, as banks in some countries don’t allow student loans, especially taking a student loan abroad.

A first year student I spoke with expressed that “taking out loans to pay for tuition payments is contributing to an instability in the modern economy.” Indeed, taking out a loan is a great risk for the student and the co-signer, as the failure to pay back the loan with its accumulated interest can result in bankruptcy.

The question is: is this really a decision that students should make so early in their lives?

No student should have to resort to financing their education at the expense of possible financial failure down the line. Furthermore, no student should be subject to the stress that comes with being unable to afford their education whether it be finding a way to take a loan from the bank, surviving the high cost of living of France, or knowing that the interest rate on their loan is exponentially increasing their inevitable debt.

As a university that values internationalism as one of its core values, Sciences Po should take these challenges into account when considering the financial packages of non-EU nationals. Working with the student and their families directly, the administration should consider the financial hardships that ensue due to a bank loan, and the inability for many students to receive one. Additionally, greater opportunities for on-campus jobs would make the financial strain of living expenses easier to manage.

A student that gains admission to Sciences Po, or any other educational institution should not be hindered by their financial situation. By providing greater opportunities for student tuition payments, Sciences Po will ease the stress of many students. Furthermore, it will enhance the diversity of this campus, allowing for an expansive range of socioeconomic backgrounds the opportunity of attending a great university.

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Students in the courtyard at Sciences Po Campus of Reims. Photo: Abby Edwards//The Sundial Press

Diana Glebova is a first year student at Sciences Po Campus of Reims. Born in Donetsk, Ukraine; growing up in the land of 10,000 lakes and six month winters: Minneapolis, Minnesota. Has a passion for long runs, poetry, and pot luck dinners. The Grapevine runs the first Tuesday of the month.

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