By Kim Bo-eun
About 1 million college students will be eligible to receive state scholarships next year, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology announced Wednesday.
The ministry said the government will provide scholarships to students whose parents' income is in the bottom 70 percent bracket starting 2013 to ease their financial burden for tuition.
The scholarship amount will range from 675,000 won to 1.1 million won, depending on their parents' income.
State funds provided to the bottom 30 percent will also be increased by 450,000 to 900,000 won.
Freshmen will not be subject to a minimum grade point average in their first semester, but starting with the second semester, students will be required to meet the minimum standard of having a 3.0 average against the full 4.5, having taken at least 12 credits for the previous semester.
The budget for state scholarship will be increased from 1.75 trillion to 2.25 trillion next year. Adding the 600 billion to 700 billion funded by universities, some 2.85 trillion won is expected to be used for tuition cuts.
Although the increased funding is bound to alleviate the tuition burden for more students and their parents, critics say that it does not address the root of the problem of the exorbitant price of college tuition.
"The government should first cut the costs of college tuition rather than expand state scholarships under the current level of tuition," said Chang Eun-sook, chairperson of the National Association of Parents for Charm Education.
"And even if the funds go to individuals, schools will be involved in the process of providing the students with scholarships," said Chang. "Problems are bound to arise regarding the transparency of managing the funds, and additional costs will occur as more schools will need more personnel to carry out the tasks."
It is better to direct state funds to schools so that they are obligated to be transparent about how the money is spent, she said.