Grants go to rich as well as poor
'The day I started university, a senior schoolmate told me to seize the opportunity to apply for grants,' recalls Li Qing, a third-year undergraduate at South China University of Technology.
'I was quite confused, because my family is totally capable of supporting my studies. But now, I understand why they suggested it.'
Every year around October, the talk among almost all the university students in Guangzhou is about grants.
The grants, 2,000 yuan (HK$2,450) to 3,000 yuan a year, were designed to help hard-working students who had trouble with living expenses.
But things have changed, and now the needy are not the only ones getting grants - you can get one by merely applying.
A grant-aided student who refused to give his name says: 'I just need to get a poverty certificate from my township government and hand it in with the application form and wait for the approval from the class approval group and the school authority. The poverty certificate is easy to get, whether you are poor or not.'
Zhang Shan, a member of her class approval group, said: 'To tell the truth, we approve all applicants. For one thing, it's hard for us to verify whether a student with the poverty certificate is poor.
'For another, they are our classmates, and no one wants to offend anybody. Another problem is that the final lists are not made public.'
Li says, 'Some students who live very comfortable lives apply for financial aid and easily get it. Some come from very well-off families and even use an iPhone.'
Another student from her university says: 'It's ridiculous! Grants should have been needs-based, but now they have lost their purpose.'