CALGARY (660 NEWS) — A technology upgrade to streamline the application and payment process for post-secondary scholarships and awards is creating a major problem for students.
Applications for provincially-funded scholarships usually open in August with funding issued in October. However, the upgrade has prevented students from starting the application process until October meaning they will have to wait longer before they can receive their scholarships.
For students like Megan Mullen, who come from a single-income household, money is tight and scholarships are vital for offsetting school-related costs such as living expenses and tuition.
“My original plan was to work a few shifts part-time because I would still have that money in my first year, so I wouldn’t have to be working fulltime,” she explained.
“Since I won’t be getting the scholarship, I’ll have to start working more and I have a full course load as well at the university.”
Academic-based scholarships provide students with thousands of dollars in funding to help cover costs like rent, books, and tuition. They are crucial for students who are unable to receive support from their families.
“They are very important because not everyone has the financial stability to get themselves able to go to university and not everyone has parents who have a savings fund to put them through [school],” she pointed out.
You realize tuition is due now right? You could not have provided some communication on this? Poor timing on this. You owe many an apology. #ableg
— Kevin Olenick (@kevole) August 5, 2019
After parents and students took to social media to express their outrage over the delay, Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides noted in a tweet that a technology upgrade that began in 2018 is to blame.
To be clear – the Rutherford Scholarship has NOT been cancelled.
The technology upgrade in question began in 2018. Students typically apply for scholarships and awards August 1st and receive a payment in late October and again in the Spring. https://t.co/vIYErOIS0D
— Demetrios Nicolaides ???? (@demetriosnAB) August 5, 2019
It’s unclear why the province failed to notify students in advance knowing that it would affect the application process. It’s forcing Mullen to consider other options to front the costs until the scholarship money comes through.
“I will have to borrow other money and continue to work two jobs,” she mused.
While the minister is reassuring students that provincially-funded awards like the Alexander Rutherford scholarship are not cancelled, he has offered no alternatives for applying other than online.
Why was this never communicated to schools and school counsellors? We spend our days working with families to help them plan and budget for post-secondary plans. This information would have been very important information to share with our families.
— Beth Allan (@adolwyn) August 5, 2019