Applications for StudentAid BC, along with the new non-repayable, upfront BC Access Grant, are now open, said BC’s Minister of Advanced Education Melanie Mark on Wednesday.
The new grant, in addition to new funding for students with disabilities, expands open education resources and online support through BCcampus and is meant to open doors for students to return to school and earn the college or university credential of their choice.
“Whether you’re a high school grad, a current student or are returning for new skills and training, these new government supports mean the doors are wide open for you to get a post-secondary credential and pursue your dreams,” said Mark.
Every student who applies for StudentAid BC will now be automatically assessed for the new BC Access Grant, said Mark.
Originally announced in Budget 2020, the BC Access Grant will break down barriers and enable over 40,000 low- and middle-income students, or about twice as many students as supported under previous grants, to access more affordable public post-secondary education.
These students will receive up to $4,000 a year to help with the upfront cost of programs leading to a certificate, diploma, or degree.
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Mark also announced new investments totalling $2.175 million to better support post-secondary students and faculty. The funding includes $1.5 million to be shared by 20 public post-secondary institutions throughout BC and 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.
In addition, the provincial government is providing $275,000 to BCcampus to develop online resources and tools for students, staff, and faculty to help them navigate a range of topics on well-being, which are needed now more than ever. Resources include a website, videos, and webinars on topics such as adapting to online learning, building resilience, stress management and understanding financial supports.
Finally, Mark said students and faculty at public post-secondary institutions throughout BC will benefit from new OER being created and adapted. Over 310 textbooks, supplementary manuals and guides are available free through BC’s Open Textbook collection, which covers a wide range of subjects. These free materials have been a call to action from students and are being developed as part of government’s single-largest investment ever in OER: $3 million announced in April 2019.
“Especially in this time of COVID-19, tuition fees and the high cost of textbooks create barriers for students to be successful,” said Fillette Umulisa, Lansdowne campus executive, Camosun College Student Society. “The financial grants and open education resources that the BC government has announced today are welcome news to post-secondary students.”