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Korea aims to move closer to ‘half-price college tuition’

Young people whose income is less than 60% of median to receive 200,000 won per month

Yun Ho-joong, floor leader of the Democratic Party of Korea, speaks at a meeting on special measures for youth at the National Assembly on Thursday. Yonhap
Yun Ho-joong, floor leader of the Democratic Party of Korea, speaks at a meeting on special measures for youth at the National Assembly on Thursday. Yonhap
South Korea on Thursday announced details of 87 youth policy measures that will affect housing, education, welfare and jobs. The highlights include plans to halve college tuition for the whole country and to subsidize rental payments for financially struggling young people.

“In a situation where job opportunities for young people decrease due to digitalization, automation and robotization, the living conditions of young people are worsening due to COVID-19,” said Koo Yoon-cheol, head of the Office for Government Policy Coordination, Thursday.

“We will help to narrow the gap in educational opportunities so that young people can design the future they want,” he said.

One of the measures involves expanding support for college tuition.

Koo said national scholarships would be expanded from 4 trillion won ($3.4 billion) this year to 4.7 trillion won next year. The funds would cover college tuition for students from middle-income as well as low-income households.

As of now, students whose families earn 70 percent of the median income can receive 1.2 million won in state support, and those at 80 percent are eligible for 675,000 won.

Under the new policy, this will increase to 3.5 million won for students in both income brackets. A third child in a family now qualifies for 4.5 million won in support, but under the new policy their tuition fees will be fully covered.

“It is expected that the actual half-price tuition will be achieved at the individual level by significantly expanding the national scholarship support,” Koo said.

The government also aims to make it easier for young people to move up the “residential ladder” and get their own homes.

To ease the burden of housing costs for young people, the government plans to provide up to 200,000 won per month in rental subsidies for 152,000 people whose income is less than 60 percent of the median.

A total of 243,000 units of affordable “youth housing” will be provided between 2021 and 2025, including 54,000 units in 2022.



By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)
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