New budget to increase access to post-secondary education

2018 B.C. Budget to increase funding for post-secondary education and improve affordability

Last week, Finance Minister Carol James announced the new B.C. budget. (Province of British Columbia/Flickr)

According to recent press release by the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE), the B.C. NDP’s 2018 Budget will provide an increase to post-secondary funding and improve affordability measures that will help students, educators and their communities.

Specifically, the new budget provides $21 million to B.C.’s post-secondary system in affordability measures, which will include tuition waivers for former youth in care and tuition-free Adult Basic Education and English Language Learning classes.

Another $30 million will directly go to support former youth in care. While funding for the Industry Training Authority will continue at the same level, more funding will be allocated to under-represented groups within its budget.

FPSE president George Davison believes that the government’s increase of funding to post-secondary education comes as recognition to the larger issue of affordability for many B.C. residents.

“Clearly, this government recognizes the key role that post-secondary education plays in our society and economy, and our federation welcomes the actions taken to address this crucial affordability issue,” Davison said. “After 16 years of uneven funding that downloaded an unsustainable burden on to students and their families, more changes are needed to ensure that students of every age and income are able to return to school or attend post-secondary for the first time, and receive the support they need to succeed.”

These budget increases come as the B.C. NDP promise to address affordability issues experienced by households across B.C. Within the next three years, they hope to provide $1 billion to childcare and within the next ten years, $6.5 billion for housing and housing supports. They have also committed to the elimination of MSP fees, which will take effect Jan. 1.

This also comes at a time when the federal government also wants to make post-secondary education more affordable for low and middle-income students.

Last week, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Patty Hajdu announced expanded access to Canada Student Grants for part-time students and Skills Boost. This new program aims to give adult learners the support they need to succeed in the workforce.

Starting this September, nearly 10,000 more part-time students from low- and middle-income families will benefit from up to $1,800 in non‑repayable grants per year and up to $10,000 in loans.

Access to grants for part-time students with children will also be expanded allowing them to benefit from up to $1,920 per year in grants.

This is part of a larger $287.2 million pilot project over the next three years that aims to grow the Canadian economy and strengthen the middle class, according to Hajdu.

“Helping more Canadians afford post-secondary education will help grow our economy and strengthen the middle class,” Hajdu said. “Far too many Canadians face challenges when pursuing post-secondary education—not only because of the cost of education itself but also because of the financial pressures and time constraints of supporting our families.”