China last year pumped 90 billion yuan (14.2 billion U.S. dollars ) into supporting education for the poor, benefiting more than 79 million students, an education official said Thursday. Of the 90 billion, the central government allocated 73.2 billion yuan as subsidies to students, increasing by 5.6 percent year-on-year, according to Zhang Guangming, director of the China National Center for Student Assistance Administration. The State Subsidy totalling 13.1 billion yuan, for example, was distributed to more than 4.4 million students last year, and another 3.5 billion yuan had been given to award the \"excellent,\" Zhang said. The other 16.8 billion yuan comes from programs set up by local governments, schools, social organizations and individuals. Another 1.17 million college students had been covered by The Government-Subsidized Student Loan Scheme (GSSLS). This sees government paying the interest on bank loans taken out by students, with the students then paying off the balance in installments after graduation. Additionally, the Student-origin-based Loan Plan, a project based on the GSSLS which makes it easier for students to get loans from financial institutions in their hometowns, covered about 76.5 percent of all students across the country applying for education loans, according to the official. Moreover, more than 20,000 graduates have chosen to work in central and western areas of China thanks to further financial breaks aimed at persuading them to work in marginal or grassroots communities with harsh conditions, said Zhang.