In the provincial budget announced last spring, the Government of PEI announced the Island Advantage bursary and Debt Reduction grant.
“For many years, Student Financial Services has heard from applicants that the ability to afford and access a post-secondary education was their biggest challenge,” says Brad Colwill, Deputy Minister of Workforce and Advanced Learning, the department that manages these new grants.
“Youth at the YDAY 2017 Conference and members of the Youth Futures Council recommended needs-based funding. By packaging these supports together, we are telling prospective students not to let financial burden be a barrier to pursuing a post-secondary education.”
The new Island Advantage bursary has two parts
Island Advantage – George Coles Bursary is automatically given to PEI students entering their first year of studies at any post-secondary institution on PEI.
Students receive $2,200 per year. For a two-year college program, that comes to $4,400. Those in a four-year university program receive a total of $8,800. If you were going to university for a fifth year, $2,200 will be split between the fourth and the fifth years.
The Island Advantage bursary for low to middle income students is a new needs-based grant. “This grant will match what a student receives in their Canada Student Grant.
For example, a student receives the $2,200 George Coles Bursary and Canada Student Grant of $2,000, and the Island Advantage for low to middle income students is $2,000. If their tuition is $6,200, that amount covers all their tuition.
“To be eligible for Island Advantage for low to middle income students, you must apply for a student loan, then your need will be assessed. Workforce and Advanced Learning also administers the Canada Student Loan, so students can apply for both loans at the same. Students are advised to be aware of how much they owe for each loan.”
The Debt Reduction Grant increased from $2,000 to $3,500. The grant is applied to each year a student attends a college or university program on PEI or off-Island. For example, $3,500 per year in a four-year undergraduate degree equals $14,000 to apply to repaying student debt.
“This repayment grant is provided to students who complete their program, reside on PEI, or decide to come back to the Island. In the past, students applied for debt reduction within one year. Now individuals have three years to apply, because we realize it make take some time to return to PEI.”
How to apply
There is no deadline to apply for most student grants, awards and bursaries. It’s recommended to apply as early as possible, or up to six weeks before the start of the program.
Student Financial Services, a division of Workforce and Advanced Learning, handles the application and review process. Applications are available online, and staff can answer students’ questions and provide further help by phone or in person when the time comes.”
Career Connect is a SkillsPEI program for individuals who are unemployed, eligible for regular Employment Insurance benefits, and who have developed a plan to start or return to full-time post-secondary studies to enhance their education or employment skills. “It can provide extra support for living costs throughout the year. It’s a great resource to get. Students must apply through SkillsPEI to be eligible.”
For more information on the Island Advantage and Debt Reduction grants and other student grants, bursaries and awards offered through the Government of PEI, call 1-902-368-4640 or email [email protected].
For more information on Career Connect, visit www.skillspei.com/programs-for-job-seekers/career-connect.
SkillsPEI offers information sessions on Career Connect and its other programs throughout the year. Call 1-877-491-4766 for location, date and time.
For information on the Canada Student Grant, call 1-888-815-4514. Visit www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/canada-student-loans-grants.html.
For more information on other forms of student financial assistance, go to www.employmentjourney.com and search Financial Help.