Middle-income students are no longer eligible for the Alberta Scholarship for Full-Time Students
Changes to the Alberta Full-Time Student Grant (ASG-FT) were mailed to students last week, including a one-third reduction in the maximum amount available to eligible students.
The ASG-FT previously offered between $100 and $375 per month for students; the new maximum is $250. This reduction is accompanied by a modification of the thresholds eligible for the subsidy.
For example, a student living in a two-person household was previously eligible for a grant of at least $100 if their combined income was less than $89,004. And they could receive the maximum grant amount of $375 if their income was less than $45,399. Now, a family of two must have a combined income of $46,923 or less to qualify for any ASG-FT funding.
UASU president concerned that ‘nobody knew’ about grant changes
Abner Monteiro, president of the University of Alberta Students’ Union (UASU), called the change “extremely upsetting.” Monteiro said the change follows a trend of recent cuts Alberta post-secondary institutions have experienced.
“We are extremely frustrated that this is [a] ongoing funding model that is cut off from post-secondary education [and] students who depend heavily on it to be able to complete their university studies,” Monteiro said.
“Scholarships like this allow us to go out there, ensure that we can put all of our effort into our studies, do well in college, and not have to worry about our finances. Reducing them means that students are more stressed not only to excel in class, but also to get an extra job or to reduce other expenses they may have, such as paying for groceries. This only compounds another problem that students already face.
The total amount of funding available in the grant was unchanged from $54.4 million.
Monteiro noted that UASU only recently learned about the changes to the grant – during a New Democratic Party (NDP) announcement yesterday. Moreover, when asked how many consultations UASU had received, Monteiro replied “none”.
“One of our biggest concerns and criticisms…is that no one knew. We find out at the last minute, and students deserve to know how much money they’re going to get,” he said. “Students planning for funding in this cycle are now discovering [they’re receiving] least before the start of the semester.
“I don’t know how they are supposed to plan their budget and be able to manage when they haven’t even had time to think about what could be done in an emergency.”
UASU is currently in contact with the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) and the U of A’s Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) to discuss how to respond to these changes. They also plan to speak with the university to ensure that in the short term students in need can access emergency funding, and in the long term there is better communication with the provincial government.
Higher Education Minister’s office says new changes allow more students to qualify for scholarship
Sam Blackett, Press Secretary to the Minister for Higher Education, explained that the changes to the scholarship allow more low-income students to access funding.
“These changes ensure that the Alberta Scholarship is available to those who need it most and that significant funding can be provided to as many students as possible,” the commentary reads. “The change to the monthly amount allows the grant to serve more students, providing them with the support they need to pursue post-secondary education. »
This change in scholarship eligibility now means that the ASG-FT is only available to low-income students, whereas previously it was available to middle-income and low-income students.
While the total amount of grants available has not changed, an additional $12 million has also been allocated to existing scholarships and $15 million to the start of the New Beginnings Scholarship, which provides support for low-income students in the qualified programs in demand.