A stereotype of constantly hungry and barely making ends meet students has strengthened in the public consciousness. Concerning students of Slovenian educational institutions, such image is certainly erroneous. The Slovenia’s system of education is among the leaders in the quality of student life within the European space. A significant advantage of student status in Slovenia is a system of subsidized meals for students. This support is of particular importance for young people who come to study in this hospitable country from abroad.

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What Are “Bons” and Who Ban Benefit from Them?

The system of subsidized meals provides students with so-called coupons – fixed discounts for each meal in public catering establishments. They are intended for students of colleges, all higher educational institutions, including part-time students, students of Master’s and PhD study programmes. Foreign students can rely on “bons” both in the case of receiving a full education at a higher educational institution and while staying in Slovenia under an educational exchange programme.

The amount of the subvention is 2.63 EUR. Thus, if lunch costs 5 EUR, a student pays only the difference, that is 2.37 EUR. Students can use their meal discounts twice a day. At least 4 hours should pass between two meals. Besides, the subsidy is provided from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. In addition, “bons” cannot be used during summer holidays in educational institutions (from 15 July to 15 August).

How to Receive the Subsidy for Meals?

First, you have to receive a certificate of enrolment and take photos. Take these documents, your passport or other identity document, and go to receive “bons” at a subsidy provision office.

Tip: do not wait for the beginning of academic year to receive “bons”. As soon as you get a certificate of enrolment or a student ID card, immediately go to receive your subsidy. Otherwise, you risk spending a lot of time in the queue!

If you have an Internet connection, you can leave the application for receiving “bons” online. Fill out the registration form with your passport details on the website studentska-prehrana.si. Print the document or write down its number (it is shown at the top of the form).

If there is no Internet access, visit one of the special stations for provision of subsidized meals (SŠP). However, it will be necessary to go there anyway, both with the electronic application and without it. Final registration and access to the system can be confirmed only at an SŠP station. It is necessary to confirm your right to use “bons” before the start of each academic year.

Initially, “bons” were issued as paper food coupons. Now they are provided in the form of plastic cards with an integrated microchip or a mobile phone with a special application installed. Important: a SIM card must be Slovenian.

In SŠP, you will be offered to choose one of two calculation methods. Slovenian mobile network operators do not charge extra fees for paying bills through mobile phones. A personal contactless card with a chip will cost 15 EUR. You have to pay for it immediately at SŠP. The card will be ready in 5 working days. One card can be used during the whole time of study at the university.

After registration, student receives an access code to his/her account on studentska-prehrana.si. Here you can check the balance (quantity of “bons” available), see the list of cafes and restaurants participating in the subsidized food programme (they operate in all cities of Slovenia), and even order food delivery. Lists of catering establishments working with “bons” are also available in the free mobile applications NaBon or ŠOU-Pit.

The quantity of “bons” available for each student corresponds to the number of working days in a particular month. If you were unable to spend all “bons” in the designated period, do not worry – the subsidy will be available for another 60 days. The unused discount will be then cancelled.

How to Use “Bons” in Practice

First, choose a cafe or a restaurant. Before you make an order, inform a waiter that you will pay for your food through the system of subsidized meals. The majority of public places have a separate menu for students, often “advanced” as compared to the menu for regular customers.

When the time comes to pay the bill, the administrator or a waiter will offer you a special terminal for payments. To prove your subsidy eligibility, present your student ID card. Dial 1808 on your phone and attach it to the terminal. You will hear a sound signal confirming that you are eligible for subsidy and the necessary sum can be withdrawn from your account.

To pay with a chip card, you just need to attach it to the terminal. The terminal will inform about the successful payment with a sound signal.

 Remember that a waiter must give you a check for services. It will show the full cost of your order, the size of the discount, the amount to be paid and the quantity of remaining “bons”. If the payment failed, ask to print a check indicating the reason for the refusal.

Additional Tips for Different Occasions

If you purchased a new SIM card, lost a phone or a chip card, immediately visit a station for provision of subsidized meals (SŠP) and report your problem. The new number will be activated immediately. The previous one will be deleted from the system. You will receive a new chip card in 5 working days.

If you changed your address or surname, changed a university or a faculty, also do not forget to report this to an SŠP station. This will allow you to stay within the system and always receive “bons”.

Enjoy your meals and easy study!

Olga Shumakova

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