Helping students manage their student loans and reducing wait times is the impetus for a $3.2-million system upgrade that is now underway at StudentAid BC.
By March 2014, planned improvements will help students manage their accounts and access funds more quickly by allowing them to apply for a loan, confirm their enrolment and complete other important actions - all online using improved e-services and new self-service tools. At the same time, further enhancements will provide institutions with enhanced e-services and self-service tools to speed up their access, decrease their workload, and ultimately reduce costs.
Last year, StudentAid BC handled nearly 400,000 paper applications and forms. When fully implemented, the upgrades are expected to eliminate 90 per cent of the paper and significantly reduce wait times for student loan approval and funds disbursement.
After government launched the new StudentAid BC website and mobile website last summer, students were asked how their experience with StudentAid BC could be made even better. They came up with some challenges:
- Provide more timely service, especially around helping them get funds faster.
- Make it easier to apply for loans with a fully electronic application process.
- Make it easier and quicker to find out the status of their account - self-service anytime, anywhere.
Providing a self-service student portal and eliminating paper will help streamline transactions and improve communication so students can get their funds more quickly, enabling them to focus on their studies.
John Yap, Minister of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology -
"The improvements we're making to StudentAid BC services demonstrate our continued commitment to support and enhance students' post-secondary education experiences. We are putting students in the driver's seat, with more access and better support and service."
"As part of B.C.'s Jobs Plan, we are working to build an increasingly skilled and highly educated workforce, one that is ready to meet current and future labour market demands. Improvements to StudentAid BC will help us achieve that goal."
Lucia Heffelfinger Orser, director of external relations, UVic Students' Society -
"The planned improvements to modernize the delivery of the StudentAid BC program will enhance the user experience of students who apply for financial assistance. It is a good step towards staying current with student expectations. The Alliance of BC Students looks forward to continuing to collaborate with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology to represent the voice of our membership during this project."
- The Province is committed to helping qualified students get their education - regardless of their personal financial circumstances.
- In the 2011-12 fiscal year, StudentAid BC provided financial assistance to over 66,000 B.C. students, who received over $750 million in student financial aid that helped them pay for tuition, fees, books and living costs. Taxpayers cover interest costs on government loans while a student is attending class and for six months after graduation.
- The 2011 Student Outcome Survey results show that 49 per cent of B.C. baccalaureate graduates reported some form of financial debt, with 36 per cent using government student loans. The median amount borrowed by baccalaureate graduates was $20,000.
- The 2011 survey of diploma, associate degree and certificate students in B.C. shows 50 per cent of respondents borrowed to finance their studies, with 25 per cent using a government student loan. The median amount borrowed by diploma, associate degree and certificate graduates was $9,000.
- In the 2011 survey year, graduates reported using 5.4 per cent of their income, on average, towards education debt repayment.
Find out how StudentAid BC can help you map your future: http://www.aved.gov.bc.ca/studentaidbc/
For details on the Diploma, Associate Degree, and Certificate Student Outcomes (DACSO) Survey visit: http://outcomes.bcstats.gov.bc.ca/DACSO/DACSOPublications/DACSOHighlights.aspx/
Results from the Baccalaureate Graduate Survey can be found at: http://outcomes.bcstats.gov.bc.ca/BGS/BGSTupcReports.aspx/
Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology