Some 49,500 young people benefited from student grants or loans last year, according to figures released by the Federal Statistics Office.
The total handout of SFr310 million ($280 million) represented a decrease in real terms of 23 per cent since 1993, despite the fact that the number of people attending higher education has risen consistently since then.
Less than one in ten of Switzerland's 538,000 students and apprentices qualified for grants last year. The cantons paid out SFr281 million in grants and SFr29 million in the form of loans.
The rate of grant and loan recipients has stagnated since the second half of the 1990s, according to the Statistics Office.
According to a recent Europe-wide survey of students' social conditions, only 14 per cent of Swiss university students received grants, compared with 25 to 50 per cent in other countries.
Last year, the average payout per student was SFr3,180 per semester, with significant regional differences.
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