More students than ever are receiving financial aid from UBC

UBC’s latest Student Financial Support Annual Report finds that more students are receiving financial aid than ever.

According to the presentation delivered by former VP Students Louise Cowin at the June Board of Governors meeting, the number of UBC students receiving financial aid has grown by 10 per cent over the last five years and total student financial aid has increased by 27 per cent over the same period. Student financial aid is forecasted to grow even more in the years to come, fuelled by UBC’s Blue and Gold fundraising campaign and a growing operating fund.

In the past year, 27,644 students received $298.8 million dollars in student financial aid — a 14 per cent increase compared to the 2016/17 period. UBC provided 29 per cent of that funding.

UBC’s 2017/18 budget indicates that 7.5 per cent of collected tuition fees go towards student financial aid.

Darran Fernandez, associate registrar and director of the Student Support and Advising at Enrolment Services, said this increase is partially due to a change in how UBC allocates need-based funding.

“It’s now done through a tuition-based model,” said Fernandez. “A percentage of tuition goes towards financial need, and so that’s why you’ll see a change year over year because as tuition increases, the amount of money also increases.”

UBC isn’t the only one changing its student financial aid program. British Columbia recently adopted the BC StudentAid Fixed Student Contribution Model, which has brought significant changes in how a student’s financial contribution to their education is decided.

Participating students will now be required to make a fixed contribution of $1,500 to $3,000 towards their education. This model eliminates a student’s burden of having to estimate how much they will need to save up to fund their education, and allows them to work whilst they study without any impact on their eligibility for a government loans program.

“In this upcoming year we’re going to be speaking to the province about revamping BC StudentAid,” said AMS VP External Cristina Ilnitchi.

“Obviously the AMS recognizes the importance of updating the current system because these changes to post-secondary funding really do have an impact on the affordability and accessibility of post-secondary education to students.”

Ilnitchi said the AMS’ provincial advocacy goals for the year are still a work in progress, but the society hopes to follow up on the BC New Democratic Party’s election promise to introduce interest-free students loans.

“For UBC, I think that the priority is really to see the direction that the province will set on this,” said AMS Vice President Academic and University Affairs Max Holmes. Holmes said that UBC’s Policy 72, which states that no eligible student— meaning one accepted to UBC who is not barred from financial aid— should be prevented from commencing or completing their studies at UBC for financial reasons alone.

“It is a waiting game to see how we can change our systems at UBC because the systems are shaped by the direction of the province,” said Holmes.

“But once that direction is given there’s an opportunity for UBC to look at Policy 72, and [to look at] access to the university and what we might want to change”.