British Columbia offers a mix of grants and loans to help ease the cost of post-secondary education and encourage students to further their studies regardless of their personal financial circumstances.
Over one-third of B.C. baccalaureate graduates make use of government student loans.
Since 2001, government has invested more than $4 billion in student financial assistance.
In 2015-16, approximately $199 million in student loans was issued to students in B.C.
In 2015-16, the student financial assistance program in B.C. provided 57,500 awards to full-time students as part of the integrated provincial-federal loan program. This is in addition to about 6,100 awards provided to part-time students. This supports almost 45,500 students.
Students receive approximately $55 million annually in targeted provincial grants, including approximately $30 million through the B.C. Completion Grant, benefiting approximately 22,000 students each year.
As part of Budget 2017, government is reducing the variable interest rate on student loans from prime-plus-2.5% to just prime, effective Aug. 1, 2017. This change will save borrowers an estimated $11.3 million in 2017 and an estimated $17 million in each of the next two years.
Grant and loan options:
The Adult Upgrading Grant is available to low-income post-secondary students to cover the cost of tuition, textbooks, supplies, transportation and child care. Grants for half the cost of tuition are available for students with an income of 10% above the income threshold. More than 7,000 students accessed the grant in 2015-16 with total provincial funding of $10.3 million.
The B.C. Access Grant for Labour Market Priorities provides non-repayable grant and loan reduction funding of up to $16,400 for students with financial need to study in-demand trades at eligible public post-secondary institutions. Since announcing the B.C. Access Grant in September 2014, roughly 2,300 students have received approximately $10.2 million.
The B.C. Completion Grant provides more than 22,000 eligible students with a loan reduction annually for studies successfully completed. Programs must be two years in length (minimum 60 weeks) and at the undergraduate level. The grant is applied directly against their outstanding B.C. student loans. The total paid in 2015-16 was more than $30 million.
The B.C. Completion Grant for Graduates provides $500 to help students – who complete an undergraduate program of 60 weeks or longer – reduce their B.C. student loans after completing programs that support in-demand occupations. Since the grant was launched in April 2015, more than 150 students have received approximately $76,000 in funding.
The B.C. Loan Forgiveness Program forgives 100% of BC Student Loans over a five-year period when eligible professionals – such as nurses, nurse practitioners, midwives and doctors – agree to work at a publicly funded health-care facility in an underserved B.C. community. The program was realigned in 2015 and 2016 to include more health-care professions such as diagnostic medical sonographers, medical laboratory technologists and respiratory therapists. It also applies to eligible occupations that work with children in public facilities throughout the province. In 2015-16, almost 900 borrowers received $2.8 million in loan forgiveness. Since the program was introduced in 2002-03, approximately $20.1 million in loan forgiveness has been distributed.
The B.C. Training and Education Savings Program provides a grant of $1,200 to eligible children born in 2006 or later that can be used toward the cost of their post-secondary education. As of Feb. 28, 2017, more than 61,000 children have an additional $1,200 in their Registered Education Savings Plan to support their post-secondary goals. That is nearly $74 million invested in the future.
Federal/Provincial Repayment Assistance Plan assists low-income British Columbians to manage their Canada Student Loan and B.C. Student Loan debt by reducing or eliminating monthly payments, allowing applicants to pay back what they can reasonably afford. For low-income borrowers over an extended period, the student loan principal may be reduced or eliminated entirely.
B.C. Access Grant for Labour Market Priorities:
B.C. Completion Grant: https://studentaidbc.ca/repay/repayment-help/bc-completion-grant
B.C. Completion Grant for Graduates: https://studentaidbc.ca/repay/repayment-help/bc-completion-grant-graduates
B.C. Loan Forgiveness Program:
B.C. Training and Education Savings Program:
Federal/Provincial Repayment Assistance Plan: http://www.esdc.gc.ca/en/student_loans/repayment_assistance_plan.page
Additional information on provincial funding options: https://studentaidbc.ca/
Additional information on Canada Student Grants: http://www.esdc.gc.ca/en/student_grants/csg/index.page
Trish FougnerCommunications Manager
Ministry of Advanced Education