The Council of Ministers of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation has “definitively” adopted a decree modifying reforms to student allowances, the Minister of Higher Education, Jean-Claude Marcourt, said on Wednesday in a press release. Under the reform, instituted at the start of the 2016 school year, the joint income of a student’s household was considered in deciding whether to grant that student a scholarship. With the modification that has now been adopted, siblings living together or simple roommates will be exempted from this globalization. The allocation of student allowances will thus “take into consideration the persons who contribute to the maintenance of the candidate”, Marcourt stated in the press release.
The Higher Education Minister has also taken note of “the remarks on the minimum income threshold”. The student allocation reform considers that a couple cannot participate in the maintenance of a student with less than 496 euros per month, since income derived from work, social-security allowances, unemployment allowances or assistance for handicapped persons is considered”.
The Federation of Francophone Students (FeF) and the League of Families had asked for the withdrawal of this minimum ceiling which it described as “a counterproductive measure that, de facto, excludes students living in the most vulnerable families”. Minister Marcourt explained in the press release that “this ceiling was instituted in order to be a social alert mechanism while serving to fight against the deadweight effects observed previously”.
However, a specific commission will be set up within the Directorate of Study Allowances and Loans to monitor candidates concerned by the minimum threshold. It will examine each case individually and will grant assistance to the student “if the situation warrants it”. All modifications will work retroactively.
For the 2016-2017 academic year, more than 141,000 applications for student allowances were submitted, including 53,000 for higher education, the press release stated. Average student scholarships amount to 1,127 euros for higher education and 236 euros for secondary education.