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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Une rentrée universitaire toujours plus chère

by Justine Cohendet

Back to School Costs Continue to Rise for University Students

Translated Monday 29 August 2011, by Casey McNamara and reviewed by Henry Crapo

The investigation led by UNEF [Union Nationale des Étudiants de France, or the
National Union of Students of France] made public Monday presents deep concerns
about back to school costs for university students, up 4.1%, an increase two times greater
than the rate of inflation.

Since 2000, UNEF has been calculating the costs faced by students at the start of the
new school year with its “back to school shopping cart”. Though the total rises every
year, this is the greatest increase seen in four years. The last four years’ increases stayed
below 3.5%. UNEF is deeply concerned about this year’s rising costs that deepen the
disparities between students from different social backgrounds. “Today, the possibility
of attending college, and of achieving success in one’s studies, depends largely on one’s
social and familial origins.” The primary factor in the increase is the cost of housing,
which has shot up 8.9% in Paris and 1.9% in the rest of France, whereas student aid
has only risen 1.1%. Transportation is another persistent problem dogging student
budgets, especially given that the government has decided to eliminate the 153 euro
stipend formerly allocated to recipients of student aid. University and health insurance
registration fees as well as the price of meal tickets for student cafeterias have all
gone up. In July, the leading students’ union denounced steep “illegal” increases in
registration fees charged by 28 so-called “outlaw” universities.

Back to school costs continue to rise… and meanwhile a tenth month of student aid is
still on hold. Promised by the government in 2009 and partially paid in 2010, students
who rely on financial aid can’t be sure they will receive their aid in September. Laurent
Wauquiez, the new minister of higher education indicated at the end of July that 80
million euros needed to finance the measure were still lacking.

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