Students end up paying more due to additional expenses

Many students from rural and economically weaker sections take up engineering courses, attracted by the tuition fee concession that the State Government provides for first generation graduates.

But it is a matter of concern that many who depend on this concession are forced to quit the course midway because they are not able to meet the difference in fee that has to go from their pockets.

Anna University and its affiliated colleges’ statistics reveal that every year this number is increasing. The fee concession is Rs. 2,000 for Government colleges, Rs. 4,000 for Government-aided colleges, and Rs. 20,000 for self-financing colleges, a year. Only students who are admitted through the single window counselling of the Anna University are eligible for this concession and they say that this is very meagre compared to the total amount they finally end up paying.

A principal of a private engineering college says that besides the tuition fee for an accredited course of Rs. 45,000, students have to pay for notebooks, textbooks, uniforms, transport, and other miscellany.

This entire works out to around Rs. 70,000 a year.

Bank loans

The student is compelled to pay at least Rs. 50,000 after the concession. This is without the hostel expenses. Bank loans are no joy with the banks sanctioning anywhere between Rs. 12,000 and Rs. 17,000 a year only.P. Pandi, a third year engineering student studying in a self-financing college, says that the first year fee worked out to nearly Rs. 70,000. “Since there was no way the bank was going to sanction Rs. 50,000, I approached a Charitable Trust that helped me pay the rest of the money.

Since I am a day scholar, I have to spend on the college transport instead of hostel fee,” he says.

This is not the case with only those studying in self-financing colleges.

Some students studying in Government engineering colleges hailing from families where parents are daily labourers find it difficult to pay even a few thousand rupees.

Depend on sponsors

P. Arjunan, student of a Government engineering college, from an agricultural family in Pollachi had to depend on the philanthropy of some generous donors to pay the fee of around Rs. 4,500 after the tuition fee concession of Rs. 2,000.

A policy note of the Department of Higher Education 2013-14 says that “the intention of Government of Tamil Nadu to take technical education to the door steps of students from marginalised families is reflected in the tuition fee exemption scheme for the first generation graduate students admitted in engineering colleges under Government quota”.

But the tuition fee concession does not seem to be enough to let students from economically weaker sections complete their education and this has affected many students.

With even less respite coming from banks in the form of loans, most students turn to charitable trusts or individuals who sponsor their education and ensure that they complete it.