08 - Belgium - Financial support for students

Benefits are awarded to families by the Federal authorities: until the age of 25, free health insurance and child benefits for each child following studies.

Parents also benefit from a reduction in income taxes for each child following studies, without an age limit.

In 2006, the hautes écoles and art colleges received social subsidies of €60.57 per student. The universities also receive social subsidies: €282.60 for the first 5,000 students, and €188.40 for the rest), but in 2005-2006, the architecture colleges did not benefit from social subsidies. These sums go into a fund which is used in particular to help students with financial difficulties. The amounts are modified annually based on the consumer price index (health index).

Study grants

From the moment that a child follows studies successfully, the family has the right to receive material and financial assistance from the community if the parents cannot ensure that the studies will continue normally because of insufficient income.

All students that are enrolled as regular students in full-time university, artistic, agricultural, paramedical, business, pedagogic, social or technical higher education can benefit from a study grant under the following conditions:

1) Pedagogic conditions:

for the first year of higher education, the candidate must be between 17 and 35 years old; the grant is not paid if the year is repeated. An exception allows a candidate who has been regularly enrolled during two years or more in long-type higher education or in university education to reorient towards short-type postsecondary studies.

After a first failure, a candidate regains the right to a study grant after a success. After two failures, a candidate must line up two successful consecutive years in the same type of studies to regain the right to a grant. After three failures, the right is lost forever.

2) Financial conditions:

a Ministry circular specifies the taxable income that should not be exceeded each year. It is also taken into account whether the student is external or internal, whether s/he benefits or not from family allowances, whether s/he is in the final year or not, whether s/he lives further than 20 km from the institution or not. University institutions may also grant a reduction of tuition fees (less substantial than for a grant-aided student) to students who, although not eligible to receive a study grant, are nevertheless of "modest condition".

Those eligible for a grant are students from Belgium and citizens of the European Union, as well as students who are political refugees that have lived in Belgium for at least one year. In addition, students from Turkey and developing countries who, on October 1, have live in Belgium for at least five years and have completed at least five study years.

In 2005-2006, there were 36,679 applications of which 26,842 were accepted. The average grant amount is €899.11.

Study loans

The system of study loans, allocated according to criteria very similar to those for study grants (see above), allows families with at least three dependent children to take responsibility for the financial costs. The amount of the loan varies according to the level of studies, the needs of the borrowers and their ability to reimburse the loan amount and interest on the basis of 10 six-monthly payments.

In 2005-2006, there were 113 applications of which 106 were accepted. The average loan amount is €1,211.4.

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Date: 2009
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