‘More than just tuition and books’: Provincial government announces additional funding for former youth-in-care

Former youth-in-care attending UBC on a tuition waiver will now have access to additional funding from the BC government to cover living expenses such as housing, food, transit costs and more.

The government funding will be administered by Vancouver Foundation through the Youth Futures Education Fund. This announcement follows UBC’s decision in April to eliminate the age restriction on the tuition waiver for former youth-in-care.

According to research conducted by Vancouver Foundation, “40 [per cent] of homeless youth have been in foster care at some point in their lives.”

“We wanted to provide youth with some upfront support, provide them with some skills to ensure that they did not find themselves homeless and [without] life skills in advance of exiting government care,” said Craig Hikida, vice president of donor services at Vancouver Foundation.

According to Hikida, the fund shows a “realization that there's more to going to school than just tuition and books.”

“We know that just covering basic living costs during studies, while people are undergoing their studies can just be so difficult. So that's the barrier that this fund is trying to help overcome.”

Delivering the funding

While Vancouver Foundation is administering the fund, the university is responsible for disbursing it.

“It's really up to the registrar's office to determine who can and at what amount the students could possibly receive funding,” Hikida said.

In a statement to The Ubyssey, Associate Director of Student Support & Advising, Jennifer Chin confirmed that the UBC Enrolment Services Office will be disbursing the funds to students, “based on their individual situation and what they need.”

“A dedicated team of Enrolment Services Advisors will meet with students throughout the year for financial planning sessions and to prepare for upcoming and exceptional costs to help determine the funding,” Chin said. “UBC provides tuition deferrals if funding disbursements are delayed to ensure students are not negatively impacted.”

While Chin said these additional funds will help alleviate some of the financial burden for students, the funding is limited. The provincial government has allocated $250,000 to this cause, a figure that can only help so many students.

Matthias Leuprecht, a student senator who has been an advocate for former youth-in-care, agrees on the limitations.

“There's been a lot of great work, but there's still a lot of work to do,” he said.

At the moment, this funding is only available to students who were in the BC foster care system and are attending university on a provincial tuition waiver, so former youth-in-care from other provinces are not eligible.

In 2017, McGill University implemented a “Youth In Care Bursary” that anyone who was in government care across Canada could apply for. Leuprecht said that he doesn’t see why UBC can’t expand their programs nationally as well.

“[The fund] speaks to a commitment to improving intergenerational equity in BC and providing more opportunities in BC, but it also speaks to a still missing need of addressing this national issue that we have of youth in care and among different provinces of an area that's a provincial jurisdiction,” Leuprecht said.

“UBC [...] continues to say that it wants to engage in engage globally. But if we want to do that, we need to ensure that we're engaging nationally as well.”