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Cyprus

Stricter means-testing for student grants (Updated)

University of Cyprus students

Lawmakers on Thursday passed a bill changing the eligibility criteria for student grants, amid loud protests from youths outside.
It was supported with 26 votes from DISY, DIKO and the Citizens Alliance.
AKEL, EDEK, Green Party and independent MP Zacharias Koulias voted against with a total of 23 votes.
The bill reduces the bureaucracy students face when applying for grants. They will now need to fill in one application as opposed to the previous three or four.
Responsibility for the grants now falls under the education ministry and not the finance ministry.
The new law introduces stricter means-testing, likely to make some families ineligible for the grant.
In order to qualify, a family’s gross annual income must not exceed €59,000, and its total assets – including bank deposits and immovable property at January 1, 2013 prices – cannot exceed €1.2 million.
Families with more than two children and with a gross annual income over €59,000 are also eligible. Specifically, families are allowed €3,000 extra income above this threshold per child, starting from the third child.
Qualifying for student benefits are families whose gross annual income does not exceed €39,000. For families with three or more children, the total gross income must not exceed €59,000.
Applications for student grants and benefits will be graded on a points system factoring in a family’s finances, assets and social circumstances.
To be eligible, members of the applying family must have resided legally and permanently in the Republic for at least 50 months during the five years before the start of the studies for which the grant is being requested.
Eligibility also covers, for the first time, students attending private colleges in a recognised degree programme.
Applications need to be filed by March 31 of the academic year in progress.
The total funds allotted come to €66.75 million, of which €63 million relate to the student grant, and €3.75 million to student benefits.



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