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Posted: April 2, 2020

Emergency funding supports boosted for students

Students attending British Columbia’s 25 public post-secondary institutions, who are experiencing emergency financial pressures, will get some help from a one-time investment of $3.5 million in emergency financial assistance.

“Our government is taking steps to ensure post-secondary students get some emergency support so they can focus on staying healthy, meet their educational goals and finish their semester,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “We heard from students who are facing extremely difficult situations, and we’re moving quickly to ensure they have access to immediate financial relief.”

The $3.5-million investment will supplement existing student emergency financial assistance. This funding will support domestic B.C. students, including those attending College of the Rockies, who are experiencing an unexpected financial emergency that may affect their ability to finish their studies and handle expenses. This non-repayable emergency assistance can be used to help with a broad range of costs, including living expenses, food, travel, portable computers and other supports for students who are not already able to study remotely.

“Students and their families are in a time of financial insecurity like we have never seen before,” said Tanysha Klassen, Chair of the BC Federation of Students. “This investment in emergency funds will help to ensure rent can be paid and food can be on the table during these troubling times.”

Students often work in precarious, low-wage jobs with only a few shifts a week between busy study schedules; they are highly represented in industries that have laid off many workers due to pandemic responses. With summer employment now unlikely, and other avenues of emergency relief not available, many students and their families are entering into a period of intense financial insecurity.

Recognizing the immense need of students, several students’ unions in BC have also committed money for emergency relief – in some cases as much as $100,000.

“With layoffs, physical distancing, and classes suddenly being completed online, students and their families have a lot to worry about right now,” said Klassen. “Providing additional relief will go a long way to help those in need be able to stay focused on being successful in their studies.”

Each year, the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training invests $100,000 in public post-secondary institutions for student emergency assistance. This investment represents a significant boost to the existing supports to help students who may be experiencing financial hardships, a ministry media release outlined.

Students who attend one of B.C.’s 25 public post-secondary institutions can access these funds by contacting their school’s financial aid office, which will assist with the application process. Each post-secondary institution will determine the specific amount a student can receive based on their individual needs.

In the academic year 2018-19, the province helped 446 students through its annual emergency assistance funding.

International and out-of-province students face unique challenges. The ministry is working directly with public post-secondary institutions to ensure emergency assistance is provided.

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