Post-secondary students impacted by the coronavirus will receive up to $1.5 million in emergency financial aid from the province.
Students with limited financial resources and students that have had their studies and employment disrupted can receive emergency aid; however, the amount of help is evaluated on a case by case basis.
Advanced Education Minister, Tina Beaudry-Mellor explains,
“Our government is committed to helping students achieve their educational goals. This is especially true during this unprecedented time, as some students are faced with limited supports. These resources will help quickly address some of their more pressing needs.”
Both domestic and international students enrolled in publicly funded institutions will be supported through one-time emergency bursaries and the Ministry also plans to work with those same institutions that do not have any form of existing emergency funding in place.
“We recognize the need for urgent supports to help vulnerable students, including those from northern, remote and indigenous communities, as well as international students unable to return home,” Beaudry-Mellor said. “It is critical that we work with our institutions to help students who have nowhere else to turn.”
Students can apply for the emergency bursaries from April 1 to September 30, 2020. Application eligibility requirements will be available to students within the next week to ten days, after details, through their post-secondary education institutions.
More information will be provided about any adjustments to the program based on announcements from federal assistance programs.
But is this enough to assist students when many did not qualify for the Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit?
Mery Mendoza, president of the University of Saskatchewan Graduate Students’ Association, shares,
“Many students relied on jobs at the school as a teaching assistant or technician to help make ends meet. They also face uncertainty about whether school funding for Ph.D. or graduate students will be extended to match the duration of the pandemic.”
Canadians are eligible for the program if they have earned a minimum of $5,000 in the past 12 months through employment or parental leave benefits — leaving students who rely on student loans and scholarships out of the running.
Other federal government initiatives — like freezing student loan payments and covering Canada Summer Job program costs for small businesses hiring students while extending job placements until winter — have also helped, but more is needed according to Mendoza.
That includes increasing funding and eligibility for the Canada Student Grants program to help with tuition payments.
Mendoza adds that even if students get money into their hands right now, many of them are still going to have an extremely difficult time being able to pay for their expenses this September, and expanding those grants is a good start for a longer-term solution.
Either way, it is a difficult situation where solutions cannot come fast enough. Some students may find themselves running out of money on their lines of credit and some could be scrambling to secure a future after graduation.
The reality is that time is running out for students as the next school term is only four months away.