Making Yukon’s Student Financial Assistance Even Better

Doug Graham, MLA for Porter Creek North

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, August 26, 2016
by Doug Graham, Minister of Education

The Yukon government has been supporting Yukon students with funding for post-secondary education for more than 40 years. This year, we changed our student financial assistance program to make it even better, in particular the Yukon Grant. More grant money is now available for each student and a wider range of students can receive this support.

The reason why we have done this is simple. Yukon students are the key to our future and a good education will help them and our territory thrive.

The Yukon Grant is provided to all eligible students who are registered for full-time post-secondary studies at a designated college or university.

This year, the maximum yearly Yukon Grant amount is going up. Students enrolled in a 34-week program will receive $4,590 in Yukon Grant funding, compared to $3,740 last year. In addition, a $1,500 travel supplement is provided each academic year to those studying outside the territory. Students from Yukon communities outside Whitehorse are eligible for an additional travel amount.

We also broadened eligibility requirements in a number of ways.

For example, the amount of Yukon Grant a student receives is now being calculated on a weekly basis, which helps students who attend programs that are not part of a typical semester system.

The residency criteria now include more students. Eligible students must be resident for two years and either complete two years of high school (grades 8 to 12) or be resident here during their high school years. In the past, we have had long-term Yukon residents who did not attend high school but later gained entry into post-secondary education, and we couldn’t support them because they didn’t have two years of high school.

There is also good news for many Yukon First Nation students. Students who are receiving other forms of financial assistance, such as federal funding on behalf of a First Nation, can also now receive the Yukon Grant. This will benefit students who belong to Ross River Dena Council, Ta’an Kwäch’än Council, Kluane First Nation, Liard First Nation or White River First Nation.

Two of the most important changes help those attending Yukon College. They are now eligible for a larger Yukon Grant amount. And, if students choose to attend courses at Yukon College to upgrade for a post-secondary program, they may receive up to 68 weeks of the Student Training Allowance without using up any of their Yukon Grant eligibility.

It’s also worthwhile for them to look into support from the Student Training Allowance for other Yukon College programs, to determine whether the allowance or the grant will work better for them.

The comprehensive suite of changes was made through our new Student Financial Assistance Act, which was passed last spring. Our government began the process of reviewing and improving our legislation because we saw more and more high school students express interest in pursuing further education and, at the same time, tuition costs were rising across the country. We were committed to taking the time to listen to concerns with the previous student financial assistance system and ensure they were properly addressed.

Through an in-depth public engagement process, we received input from students, families, First Nation governments and other key stakeholders. This helped us develop improvements to ensure our program continues to help students, to be accessible, and to be effectively administered in a fiscally-responsible manner. We would like to once again thank those who took the time to provide this valuable input.

Our government is committed to ensuring funding is available to make post-secondary education more affordable for all eligible students, and we want to encourage all students to excel at their studies. With the hard work of students and our government’s commitment to support their endeavours, we believe the future of Yukon will be even brighter than it is today.

For more details about the Yukon Grant and other types of student assistance, go to www.education.gov.yk.ca.