Soon after his arrival in Beijing on Thursday, Ma Tao realized his university had already resolved the financial difficulties he faced if he wanted to study for a bachelor's degree.
Ma graduated from a high school in Mianyang, one of the cities worst hit by the Sichuan earthquake in May.
Along with 25 other students from quake regions, the 18-year-old has been enrolled at the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT). He will spend the next four years studying special energy engineering.
Before getting aid from his university, financial hardship caused by the earthquake almost stopped Ma from pursuing his dream in Beijing.
"I heard that staying in Beijing was really expensive, so I was initially thinking of going to a university in Chengdu, which would be a lot cheaper," he said.
Ma's family, who live in the countryside of Mianyang, suffered a huge loss in the massive disaster.
Their house and farmland were devastated by the 7.8 quake and subsequent floods.
In order to raise enough money for his university life, Ma had been helping his parents harvest corn - from the family's remaining land - days before boarding a train for Beijing.
"My parents insisted my future was the most important thing, so they stopped me from retreating to plan B," Ma said, adding he decided to go to Beijing after learning that BIT had said, "let no student quit studying for financial reasons or disaster".
At Thursday's enrollment, the university told Ma that he did not have to pay any tuition fees. He was also given a gift pack filled with necessities such as bedding, a backpack, and even toothpaste and a toothbrush.
Shi Lei, director of BIT's office for student financial aid, told China Daily on Friday: "The university has a special fund of nearly 1 million yuan ($143,000) for new students from the quake zones of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu."
The university had also been given a 2.8 million yuan donation from China National Tobacco, he said.
All 221 of the students from quake regions have been given a share of the money, Shi said.
"One of the students, who lost his mother in the quake, got 50,000 yuan, and the rest each received at least 5,000 yuan," he said.
The university will also offer psychological counseling to students who need it, he said.
"All new students will take a mental health assessment test," he said.
Those who need help will be assigned a mental health advisor, he said.
Sixty-seven of BIT's 3,100 new recruits are from Sichuan, he said.
As well as BIT, Tsinghua University has also offered help to 28 students from quake zones, the Beijing Youth Daily reported on Thursday.
Du Huiliang, head of student welfare office at the university, said each of them will receive a 1,000-yuan subsidy, a new bicycle, and a bag of daily essentials.
By Zhang Haizhouand Li Aoxue (China Daily) Updated: 2008-08-30 08:31