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Despite struggles in financial need for tuition, accommodation and other post-secondary necessities, students can avoid unnecessary anxiety through other readily available alternatives.
Mount Royal College has made scholarships and bursaries one of its four fundraising priorities. In the last school year $2.4 million were awarded to students in this way, a 28 per cent increase from the year before.
That same year the provincial and federal government combined were able to add an additional $22.5 million to the jackpot for grants, loans and bursaries. And while there’s been much talk about the economy and financial struggles, students can turn to the Students’ Association for more scholarships.
The Students’ Association E-Awards offer awards in 14 categories for students with disabilities, those who participate in athletics and part-time students and many more. Rewards range from $500 to $3,000 and the deadline is Mar. 6.
On top of that, the SA is fundraising through events such as Pearls of Wisdom and Feast of Sound and Song. Pearls of Wisdom celebrates students’ achievements while raising funds for a different program or faculty every year. The event has raised more than $500,000 for students in the past 10 years.
In 2007 and 2008, 2,683 awards were distributed by the college, yet the provincial government also has something to boast about. By taking a prudent approach in the past and in planning towards the future, the government ensured a somewhat healthy environment.
“We have taken steps in the past to prepare us for what we face today,” said spokesperson Rachel Bouska with the Ministry of Advanced Education and Technology. “We set aside $7.7 billion in the Sustainability Fund, there is the Heritage Fund and it’s valued at $15.8 billion. We have the lowest overall taxes in Canada and among the most competitive tax regimes in North America.”
As announced in the 2007-2008 Annual Report, $227 million was invested into the Alberta Heritage Scholarship Fund — separate from the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund.
Alberta Advanced Education and Technology also continued to aid medical residents and students on parental leave by implementing interest-free status on Alberta Student Loans. The student financial assistance program also received a boost, with increased living allowances rising 14 per cent, lowered expectations on parental contributions, a higher limit of $13,000 on student loans and no restrictions on vehicles. Along with many other enhancements and adjustments, it also awarded a record high of $54 million in scholarships.
The Students’ Association has also stepped in on behalf of students. In 2004 the government announced that $1 billion was to accumulate in the Alberta Heritage Scholarship Fund, and has so far reached $851 million. From the interest on that fund scholarships such as the Jason Lang and Alexander Rutherford are made possible.
“We want the government to make good on their promise and put the additional $149 million into the fund,” explained Matt Koczkur, VP external for the Students’ Association. “But this is another thing that’s not really on the table anymore because of the economy.”
He’s hoping that with increased revenue on the fund, the scholarships will increase to reflect tuition increases and living costs. With only speculations on what the future will hold, students can rest a little easier knowing there are still funds available to assist in post-secondary education financing.