Explainer: B.C. Announces Student Grants for the Fall Semester

Students can receive up to $4,000 for their studies along with free open education resources

Melanie Mark announces new supports for post-secondary students this fall. (Flickr/ Province of British Columbia)

The B.C. government has announced an access grant available to post-secondary students this coming fall. The grant is intended to build on ”the elimination of interests on B.C. student loans.”

In a statement, the government said the grants are non-repayable and are being offered along with funding for students with disabilities. Additional resources and online assistance will be delivered through BCcampus.

The grant is expected to help more than 40,000 low and middle-income students in the province, according to StudentAidBC.

For students to be eligible for the grant, they need to study at a post-secondary school in B.C. and be eligible to apply for and receive a student loan.

As the grant is available to low and middle-income students, they must be registered in full or part-time undergraduate degrees, diploma, or certificate programs.

The amount students receive depends on their family income, and generally the more a family earns, the less money the students will receive.

Students studying in programs under two years in length can receive up to $4,000 a year. Students in two-year programs or longer can receive up to $1,000 a year. Up to $1,000 is available for part-time students, StudentAidBC says.

Their website also mentions that students who apply for student aid for September will be automatically assessed for grant eligibility.

B.C. Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark announced a total of $2.175 million in investments to help students and faculty members in B.C. institutions. According to the government statement, the funding will include $1.5 million to be distributed between 20 post-secondary schools around the province.

The $1.5 million in funding “will be used to develop or build upon supports for students with cognitive, mental health, or physical disabilities to create the conditions they need to succeed.”

The government will also provide BCcampus with $275,000 to create resources for students and faculty to “help them navigate a range of topics on well-being.”

These resources could include websites, videos, and webinars on topics like adapting to online learning, building resilience, stress management, and understanding how to access financial support.

Tanysha Klassen, chairperson of the BC Federation of Students, also praised the student access grant for helping students develop their skills in areas that are “key for the health of our economy.”

Thanks to the BC Open Textbook Collection, students also have access to over 310 textbooks, manuals, and guidelines. These resources are a part of the government’s $3 million Open Education Resources (OER) funding that was announced last April 2019.

Lansdowne campus executive for the Camosun College Student Society Fillette Umulisa says these programs will help a lot of students.

“Especially in this time of COVID-19, tuition fees and the high cost of textbooks create barriers for students to be successful,” Umulisa says.

“This support is critical to providing easier access to the necessary courses and programs students require to get their credentials, achieve their career goals, and contribute positively to our economy and society.”

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