“It is not regular that I am unable to dwell”

Maëlle, 21, in her 4th year at Sciences-Po

To write words and pictures about the difficulties faced by students who have been hit hard by inflation after two years of the Covid crisis, l’Obs will meet with students and college students throughout the year, including Maëlle, 21, in a double degree in political science in Berlin. The young woman, whose parents live in Mayotte, is trying to reconcile her studies and her financial needs, which she bears alone. She agreed to surrender.

“Ever since high school, when I had to pay for school trips, I always got my grandmother or the institution to fund me. My parents couldn’t afford them even though I was in a public high school. When I arrived at the college, it was clear that it would not be possible to ask them to pay the rent.

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I had a good scholarship when I came to Sciences-Po, I was lucky. I received 400 euros from the Crous grant, 300 euros thanks to the supplement paid by Sciences-Po and 300 euros as a subsidy related to my double degree with Berlin. I had enough to live on my own and pay my apartment rent. In 2020 I switched to a 170 euro per month stipend in addition to a 300 euro stipend paid by Sciences-Po. But this help, although very useful, comes on time, in November or December and in July. Difficult to count on for the month of September. I had to start working.

“Since the beginning of the school year I have changed my consumer behavior and prefer hard discounter brands”

I babysat for four hours three or four times a week. I spent my time in my room studying or working to make ends meet financially. It was too much, I started to get depressed, it didn’t work at all. The childbirth that followed really drained me. In March 2021 I stopped babysitting and looked for an internship of 15 to 20 hours a week during the day, which I really liked. I was only paid €450 per month. I knew it was good for my record, it calmed me down. It gave me extra motivation to know that it wasn’t a grocery job.

Since my arrival in Berlin to continue my double degree in political science with a German university, I have received no APL, no grant. I also have to pay my tuition here, which I didn’t have to do at Sciences-Po Paris. Even if it’s only 300 euros per semester or 600 euros per year, I’m not sure where to get it from. I continued to earn my living by babysitting, which allowed me to earn up to 600 euros a month. Last semester I found an additional internship. It was in a research center, I really wanted to do it. 320 euros were paid monthly. My scholarship wasn’t enough to make a living. I had 20 hours of classes, 20 hours of internship, 20 hours of babysitting. For six months I was a robot. At the end of July I felt very bad.

“A small night job took too much of a toll on my health and my grades”

During the summer holidays I am going to my parents in Mayotte, where they moved in the summer of 2020. I have been working there with my mother in a temporary position in the tax department for two years. I also spent hours translating for remote work. I spent an entire summer job translating a website. I also give private lessons remotely. I never really have vacations. For me it’s normal.

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Before the school year started in September, I had known for a few months that my scholarship would go down again, even though the grades hadn’t been calculated yet. Crous grants are awarded on two-year old tax returns. Or, as far as I’m concerned, the year my parents went to Mayotte. Her income increased when she moved to the overseas departments. In France, my mother received 1,700 euros. In Mayotte, living expenses bring her 45% more salary and she has rent assistance. A large sum to compensate for the very expensive prices for direct consumption. But it’s just enough for his standard of living.

I’m a level 3 or 4 scholarship holder depending on my sister’s studies, I went to level 0 to . I also have geographical distance points because my childhood home is in the French overseas departments. But these points, calculated on the distance between the parental home and the place of study, do not compensate at all. I thought I had the grant from Sciences-Po, which gives me three quarters of my scholarship. But in the end I had someone from the school who explained to me that I don’t get this bonus for my fourth year. After all, I only have a grant of €100. That’s not an amount to live with.

“Every day I drive 60 kilometers back and forth between my school and my home”

Is that all I’m given for studies I’m supposed to do all the way? My stock market keeps falling. I am afraid that one day I will be told that I can no longer benefit from it. A lot of people don’t talk about it because they’re ashamed. I was tired of not saying anything. It’s not normal that I can’t live. I can’t invent money. Last semester I worked forty hours a week. This is done. But at what cost?

It makes me so sad that it took a tiktok video with 9 million views for the crous to focus on my file. In the past few days, I’ve had someone on the phone from the interministerial cabinet for equal opportunities for French people abroad. He explained to me that he thought point systems worked. Honestly, they employ people to do statistics, extrapolations… well, they do math! It doesn’t amount to the same thing at all. I find it embarrassing: that I am able to do this calculation to be able to say exactly what I will get if we take away the help that we are giving to my mother and that they are not able to provide an adjusted one to create a scoring system … »

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