UBC has made it its mission to educate every qualified student—even those who can’t afford it. But while Policy 72 ensures the university will step in to fill the financial gap if students are left with unmet needs, the qualifications narrow down the number of eligible students significantly.
“A student must be on a government student loan in order to qualify. That is 22 per cent of the UBC population,” said AMS President Jeremy McElroy.
“That means 78 per cent of campus doesn’t have access to this policy. International students and part-time students are also ineligible.”
According to the Student Financial Assistance and Awards (SFAA) office, between UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan, 4000 students a year receive funds under Policy 72. In the 2010/11 year, 3543 students were helped by the policy at UBC Vancouver. The policy has been in place since July 2004.
Anne DeWolfe, director of SFAA, explained that the amount awarded to students under Policy 72 varies according to tuition, length of study period, family situations and the amount of personal resources students are able to contribute.
In order to qualify, students are required to exhaust all other resources.
Students must have taken out the maximum loan amount available from StudentAid BC, asked family members for help and applied for scholarships and bursaries.
SFAA then makes the final decision whether to enact the policy if students still have unmet needs.
For financially challenged domestic students who still don’t make the cut, DeWolfe said, “One of the real problems for students is that the cost that the province allows for your eligible expenses does not reflect living costs in Vancouver.”
While Canadian students have access to Policy 72, others may have to wait for a similar policy. DeWolfe says that the university is trying to develop financial assistance for international students, but because UBC is a publicly funded institution, there is currently no ability under Policy 72 to fund them.
However, the university has still been able to dole out funding through bursaries and scholarships for international students left out of the policy.
“To date, the university has been able to pay out the unmet needs to all students in the general pool,” said DeWolfe. “What we are unclear of is: at some point, will the unmet needs our students have be greater than our bursary pool?”