Birzeit University seeks to promote higher education, even among those who may have difficulty affording it. As such, the Financial Aid Office at the Deanship of Student Affairs prepares a list of students that qualify for financial aid from among those who apply by filling out a Social Survey and submitting it to the Grants and Financial Aid Committee.
Grants and Financial Aid Committee
The Grants and Financial Aid Committee at the Deanship of Student Affairs is comprised of a number of professors, staff, and secretary of the Finance Committee at the Student Council. It is tasked with adopting standards and criteria for the selection of student candidates for educational grants.
Standards Adopted by the Grants and Financial Aid Committee
- Students who are in financial need
- Families of students registered for support with the Ministry of Social Affairs
- Students from families with one breadwinner because the other breadwinner doesn’t work, is sick (chronic disease), or deceased
- Students with more than one sibling enrolled in the university
- Students who have completed one semester with at least an average of 12 credit hours
- Student should be a regular student at the time of obtaining a grant
- Student’s cumulative grade point average should not be less than 70%
- Student should not have obtained a grant from any other source
- The primary determinant for obtaining these grants is based on two basic conditions: the students’ GPA is not less than 70% and he or she has a need for financial aid
- Donor requirements are also taken into account, if they do not conflict with the committee’s standards
Mechanisms for Grants, Financial Aid and Loans
Types of Assistance
1. Social Survey
The Social Survey is the application that determines a student’s eligibility for need-based financial aid. To achieve greater transparency, the university has developed a special computerized system for the student grant and financial aid process, facilitating the Social Survey.
The financial aid office has initiated a window through the academic and administrative portal (Ritaj) for accessing Social Survey applications that are filled out by students along with electronically-attached supporting documents. This procedure has significantly facilitated the sorting of these applications according to the standards adopted by the financial aid committee to ensure the proper and fair distribution of grants and aid.
Each student completes a social survey (a form describing his/her personal and financial situation) at the beginning of each academic year in order to benefit from scholarships and financial aid. Each social survey is then reviewed by members of the Grants and Financial Aid Committee, in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs.
After the completion of the data collection phase, available grants and scholarships are distributed among students in need, according to the priorities the committee has established (see above).
The students are divided into five categories: A, B, C, D, E. Each group is exempted from a different percentage of tuition fees, as follows (registration fees are not included):
- A - Exemption from tuition fees by 90%
- B - Exemption from tuition fees by 75%
- C - Exemption from tuition fees by 50%
- D - Exemption from tuition fees by 25%
- E - Exemption from tuition fees by 0%
*Through the Social Survey, the university offers aid to nearly 10% of its students annually.
2. Living Expense Stipend for Needy Students
The Financial Aid Office covers many students’ needs directly through specific disbursements. These are subject to a high degree of transparency, where student applications for living expense assistance are reviewed, through either a personal interview with the student in question or by consulting the counseling office in some cases. The Financial Aid Office takes applications and determines how much each student receives. This assistance is approved by the chairman of the Financial Assistance Committee before disbursement.
3. Textbook Loans from the Library
In collaboration with the Friends of Birzeit Society, a wide range of academic books are provided to students in need, provided that the student has completed a social survey application. Students are allowed to use each textbook for a semester before returning it to the library upon the semester end.
4. Sibling Discount
When two or more siblings are enrolled in the university, these students are awarded sibling discounts, provided that they are not receiving any other grant or assistance covering tuition over the previous semester. Students are referred to the financial aid office to verify the family relationship between the student and his/her brothers or sisters enrolled in the university, and then determine the student beneficiary from the exemption, after making sure that no exemption or grant was awarded during the previous semester.
5. Students’ Loan Fund
In collaboration with the Student Loan Fund, which grants student loans for Palestinian universities, the Birzeit University Deanship of Student Affairs fills out loan applications and double checks the required supporting papers.
How to Apply for Grants and Financial Aid
1. The start and deadline for social survey applications is announced at the beginning of each academic year. Loan applications are also announced at the beginning of each semester via the university's academic and administrative Portal (Ritaj) and on bulletin boards in all university facilities, as well as the social networks.
2. The student fills out the social survey form on the student’s account on the university website (ritaj.birzeit.edu) and/or application for the Student Loan Fund at the Ministry of Higher Education Fund site, submitting all necessary supporting documents to the Financial Aid Office at the Deanship of Student Affairs at the specified time.
The following supporting documents should be submitted upon request:
- A photocopy of the father’s/head of household’s identity card along with family members.
- Income statement
- House status (owned or rented)
- The number of family members who are pursuing their studies in schools or universities
- Presence of a disabled or chronically ill family member
- Prisoner or family member killed by the occupation
- Family property (agricultural land, real estate, stocks, bonds, cars, etc.)
- Proof from the Ministry of Social Affairs, or UNRWA
3. Every student has the right to apply for financial assistance:
- If he/she is a student at the university, and has completed not less than 12 credits hours
- If he/she has not received an academic warning
- If he/she has not received a disciplinary warning
4. Students are not eligible for financial aid if he or she:
- Has not completed his/her application within the prescribed period
- Provided false information on the application
- Has not completed 12 credit hours in the semester (excluding graduates)
- Has received a disciplinary or academic warning
Grants and exemptions
Birzeit University offers many full and partial grants, including grants for students specializing in certain disciplines, such as science and mathematics, and grants to students, who got a high average in the secondary education examination certificate (Tawjeehi), as well as honor list students, and to outstanding students in sports and members of sports teams, in addition to grants for the executive education program, and grants to master’s students, and grants for the academic exchange program. Moreover, there are exemptions for sons/daughters of martyrs and ex-detainees, brothers, and exemptions for the sons/daughters of the university employees.
The University provides the opportunity for students to develop different skills to cover part of their expenses by joining the student employment program, where students work certain hours in different units of the university in their free time, and get paid.
The University also allocates other grants, based on agreements with certain parties; in terms of grants to the sons/daughters of workers at the Ministry of Higher Education and Birzeit Municipality, as well as Ramallah and Al-Bireh Governorate, in addition to many other grants.
The honor list student grants at Birzeit University are granted exemption automatically, which entitled 535 male and female students to get an exemption in the academic year 2013/2104, and 511 in the academic year 2014/2015.
In order that the university doesn’t deprive freshman students to earn a scholarship at the beginning of their first semester, the university allowed these students to apply for financial aid along with their admission applications to help them pay their tuition fees.
In addition to all this, and because some students are not in need to grants to pay their tuition fees, the university has provided another form of aid, a living aid, which is financial assistance provided to students in order to help them cover their university life expenses, in terms of purchasing the necessary textbooks and stationery.
Social survey applications
Besides the grants mentioned above, the Birzeit University Deanship of Student Affairs in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Student Council carry out a social survey for all applicants for aid, as they visit the homes of all those who submitted an assistance application.
In recent years, more than 2,200 students have applied for social survey, out of which 1350 homes of students were visited. The number of students who have benefited from grants and financial aid was based on the social survey results during the first semester of the academic year 2014/2015 amounting to one thousand students.
Besides the social survey, one-fourth of the revenues of Birzeit Nights Festival is allocated to the Student Fund, from which 41 students have benefited from this event in the academic year 2013/2014. The amount spent on these grants was about 15 thousand Jordanian dinars.
Loans and installments
The facilities provided by the university on scholarships and aid mentioned above is not limited, for example, the university has pledged to cover the interest on loans taken by students who have graduated and did not pay their debts to the banks. In the past two years. More than 150 students have benefited from these facilities and more than 20% of the university students of the academic year 2014/2015 have paid installments, according to the arrangements and facilities for the payment of tuition fees that were set-up by the university..
In fact, more than 1,500 students have benefited from loans provided by the Palestinian higher education institutions loans fund, and more than 890 other students have benefited from external grants offered to the University from local and international institutions.
University continues with its efforts
With the beginning of each new academic year and every semester, the university intensifies its efforts, so as not to deprive any female or male student from joining the university, due to his/her financial situation. Consequently, the university harnesses all its energy to secure an adequate budget to accommodate the growing numbers of needy students, who have registered at the university. Moreover, the university hopes to be able every year to secure more funding to remain a renowned seat of learning by embracing all students, whether the outstanding students who deserve exemptions and grants, or the needy students who cannot afford to pay their tuition fees, and have obtained high averages in their high school secondary education examination. However, the university has allocated in its budget for the academic year 2014/2015 more than 2.7 million Jordanian dinars for grants, exemptions different forms of financial aid, out of its belief that financial need and social conditions should not be an impediment to those students wishing to complete their university education, and recognizing the importance of higher education in the communities in general, and those lying under occupation, in particular, and the consolidation of its vision and values with regards to the diversity of its student body to include all segments of Palestinian society socially, economically and geographically.