Last week, the government's spring amendment budget was adopted. It echoes empty for the students, even if the group as according experts will get the most difficult are just we students. This text describes two reform proposals where increased resources are requested.
The students are missing from the proposal
Government Bill 2021/22: 99 contains proposals for changes concerning the state's revenue and expenditure for the financial year 2022. In a simple ctrl-f search for the word “student”, one gets no hits in the 247-page proposal. The better it is for research that receives increased funding. It is the same and once again we stand with empty words that education and research should be given priority. The spring change budget clearly shows that this is not the case.
In May, inflation was over 7 per cent according to Statistics Sweden, Statistics Sweden. High inflation affects many groups in society, but those with the worst economic conditions are particularly hard hit. Students are already struggling. We live on student aid, loans and grants, often have high housing costs in relation to our income and live month by month.
Health and wellbeing
It has too alarmed that the economic unrest can hit hard on the health and mental well-being of Sweden's students. Nevertheless, the government has not complied with this. Also this morning came news reporting that everything more expensive food affects students. The question of how students should live is alarming, not only do we have a hard time during the summer when we need to work or live on saved funds. Time for recovery is a luxury that few students have.
The reforms, the study grant and the tax-free amount
The student financial aid system must enable studies throughout life. In order for the study grant to serve its purpose, it must be adapted to society's levels and correspond to the actual costs. Working alongside your studies should be an opportunity and not a necessity to be able to finance your study time. The study grant must be designed so that people's socio-economic background or family situation does not constitute an obstacle to taking part in the study grant or higher education.
Today, the grant and loan weeks are linked, which means that if you study one semester and only apply for a grant from the Central Student Aid Board, CSN, you also consume your right to a loan from CSN for the corresponding number of weeks. Thus, it is not possible to only apply for a grant for a certain number of weeks to save their loan weeks. This penalizes those individuals who choose to apply for only the grant portion of CSN. SFS believes that CSN should not control how you finance your studies by forcing students to borrow. Therefore, SFS advocates that the grant and loan part be separated so that you have the opportunity to freely dispose of your study funds.
An obstacle for the students is the tax-free amount that regulates what income a student may have in addition to his studies. SFS is basically positive to a tax-free amount, as it is a guarantee that it will always be possible to finance their studies with study grants and without the need for a side income. On the other hand, the deductible shall not constitute an obstacle to the sale of housing or the transfer of capital between accounts.
Although Sweden has one of the foremost student financial aid systems, there are aspects that are outdated and need to be changed. Here are the changes that SFS wants to see:
- Increase the study grant due to the increase in inflation.
- Separate the grant and loan weeks so you can choose to only take grants or grants and loans without losing the opportunity to get those weeks of loans paid off.
- Only assess income for the weeks the student receives study grants so that the free amount does not prevent students from working during, among other things, the summer.
- Extend the number of weeks one can receive study grants from 240 to 320 weeks.
- Raise the age limit for the possibility of applying for study grants until retirement age.
Reform the housing allowance
The Government has chosen to proceed with proposals on the housing allowance and states in the spring amendment budget that "a temporary supplementary allowance for families with children within the housing allowance will be introduced". The inquiry has neglected the students' situation and focused on families with children. SFS does not want to pit groups against each other but is incomprehensible in how the students' situation is not taken into account.
Despite the fact that housing is one of the expenses that consumes the largest part of students' income and that many students have such a small income that they should be entitled to housing allowance, two out of three students fail to apply for the housing allowance. The housing allowance needs to be made more accessible. The housing allowance can be a way to help the students who have high housing expenses (when the study grant is not increased, which should actually be designed to cover the individual's costs). Surveys show that older students have the most difficulty in getting their finances together, therefore the age limit for the housing allowance for students of 29 years should be removed.
The requirement for estimated annual income should be abolished so that the housing allowance for students is instead based on what one thinks one will receive for the next month, not what the student thinks one will earn in a whole year. SFS is also of the opinion that CSN should administer the housing allowance for students, instead of the Swedish Social Insurance Agency. This is because CSN administers student support and is the authority that has the most contact with students. It would make it easier for students to apply for both student grants and housing grants in the same place, and that more students would probably find out about the possibility of applying for housing grants.
Therefore, SFS wants to see the following changes:
- Make the housing allowance more accessible to students.
- Remove the age limit on the housing allowance for students.
- Remove the requirement for estimated annual income and instead calculate the housing allowance on a monthly estimate.
- CSN takes over the administration of housing allowance for students from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency.
We demand a government that wants to make the policy pursued a reality. Which gives tomorrow's workers a real opportunity to establish themselves in the labor market where an education rewards and where the education provides the method and tools required to take on a changing future. A government that secures the students' financial situation and takes responsibility for them will have a hard time getting food on the table with a dwindling amount of study funds and increased prices.