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Government announces changes to scholarship program

June 24, 2009

The government announced changes this week to the Canada Student Loans and Grants Program. The new guidelines are designed to encourage greater post-secondary participation, and will see more students receiving smaller individual awards. The individual awards will decrease to $2,000 annually, from $3,000, but will see 100,000 more students receiving awards. The changes replace the Millennium Scholarship Program, which has been discontinued.

While both the Canadian Federation of Students and the Canadian Association of Student Associations expressed their support for the changes, others have expressed concerns. On his blog, Dale Kirby has raised some interesting questions concerning who the changes are targeting. He suggests the changes are politically motivated and are aimed at the middle-class, the Conservative Party’s bread-and-butter. Who will get less money, he asks?

Will it be the more academically-capable students who were awarded scholarships by the Millennium Scholarship Foundation on the basis of merit? Almost certainly.

Will it be the students from low-income families and other groups that are traditionally under-represented in post-secondary education who were awarded bursaries by the Millennium Scholarship Foundation on the basis of need? Very likely.

Who will be receiving the re-distributed funding then? Well, based on the eligibility criteria, I suspect a large proportion of the re-distributed funding could go to existing middle-class post-secondary students as well as middle- and upper-income background “independent students” who could afford to attend a post-secondary program in the absence of this additional public subsidy.

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