BC announces new funding to support post-secondary students this fall

Applications for StudentAidBC and the new BC Access Grant are now open

Alisha Samnani // Managing Editor, News Editor

British Columbia (BC)’s Minister of Advanced Education has announced new supports for post-secondary students, including funding for students with disabilities and expanded online resources. 

Applications are now available for the BC Access Grant: a needs-based, upfront grant for low- and middle-income students enrolled in full and part-time undergraduate, degree, and certificate programs at a BC public post-secondary institution. The grant will provide up to $4,000 a year for students enrolled in full time programs less than two years in length, and up to $1,000 a year for students enrolled in programs two years or longer in length or those enrolled in part time studies. Every student who applies for student loans through StudentAidBC will be automatically assessed for the new BC Access Grant.

“The CSU had advocated for needs-based grants for seven years before the BC Access Grant was announced in the spring, so we’re excited that many low- and middle-income students at CapU and post-secondary institutions across the province can benefit from this much-needed program,” said Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) President Emily Bridge. 

Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, says that the new grant will allow over 40,000 students access to more affordable public post-secondary education. “This is double the funding and the number of students who were supported through grants under the former government,” she added.

While these new supports will be seen as a victory by many, Bridge says this announcement does not mark the end of the CSU’s advocacy efforts.

“We were disappointed to see that the international and out-of-province students are not eligible for the BC Access Grant and will continue to lobby the federal and provincial governments to ensure that students of all backgrounds can receive the assistance they need to access education in BC.”

Mark also announced investments totalling $2.175 million to support post-secondary students, staff and faculty. This investment includes the $1.5 million which will be equally distributed between 20 post-secondary institutions across BC to enhance institutional support for students with cognitive, mental health or physical disabilities.

“Our investments in post-secondary education empowers students and helps communities get back on their feet and be part of BC’s economic recovery,” said Mark in a news release.

The Ministry also introduced an investment of $275,000 into the BCcampus website, specifically to develop online resources and tools in support of students, faculty and staff. Topics include adapting to online learning, building resilience, stress management and understanding financial support options.

A further investment of $400,000 was put into developing BC’s open educational resources (OERs). These free teaching, learning and research materials are something students will benefit from this fall. OERs have been a call to action from many student groups, including the CSU. 

“The CSU is currently running a campaign called Make The Switch which aims to encourage instructors at Capilano University to move away from expensive physical textbooks to free online materials,” said Bridge. “We also need CapU instructors to embrace open educational resources, and support students by making the switch.”

Additional information on the BC Access Grant can be found at StudentAidBC. To learn more about open education resources and tools, visit the CSU’s Make The Switch campaign page. To access open education resources, visit open.bccampus.ca.

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