Province announces new grant to ease student loan debt
By Atiba Nelson, Staff Reporter
Last month, Finance Minister Carole James delivered the new British Columbia budget for 2020. The budget was hailed as the government’s plan to keep BC moving forward by making life better for British Columbians.
One group the government is aiming to make life better for are BC post-secondary students.
After already announcing that the government would be eliminating interest rates on current and future BC Government-issued student loans, the BC government announced a new grant that would make post-secondary education more affordable for students.
The new BC Access Grant will be a needs-based grant based on a student’s family income. According to the StudentAidBC website, the “BC Access Grant will help more than 40,000 low and middle-income students access, afford, and complete public post-secondary education and training each year in BC.”
To be eligible for the BC Access Grant, students must be enrolled in part-time or full-time undergraduate studies—whether a degree, diploma, or certificate—studying at a BC public post-secondary institution, and eligible to apply and receive a student loan.
There is no application for the grant; however, students have to apply for student aid at their respective BC post-secondary institution. After then they will be automatically assessed for the BC Access Grant.
“The new BC Access Grant replaces the BC Completion Grant, BC Completion Grant for Graduates, and the BC Labour Market Priorities grant to provide up-front financial support to students when they need it at the beginning of studies,” reads a posted statement.
Up to $1,000 per year is available to part-time students and student enrolled in two-year programs or longer in length, and $4,000 per year is available for students pursuing programs less than two year in length.
“[…] for the first time provincial grants will be available to part-time students and students enrolled in programs of less than two years,” said James during her budget speech.
The Douglas Students’ Union touted the newly announced grant as a victory on their website in a posted statement similar to one posted on the The British Columbia Federation of Students—which is an coalition of 13 BC university and college students’ unions.
The statement describes the announcement of the grant as a needed relief.
“With tuition fees at an all-time high, student debt in BC continues to grow as students and their families struggle to afford the education they need to enter the workforce,” said Tanysha Klassen, Chairperson of the BC Federation of Students (BCFS) and graduate of Douglas College.