VICTORIA -The provincial tuition waiver program for former youth in care looking to enroll in post-secondary education has been expanded.
“This program has made a massive and positive impact on so many peoples’ lives to shape their future without barriers, financial burden or worry,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills, in a news release. “Expanding this program to all former youth in care will provide significant support to British Columbians to seize the opportunities in this changing economy while providing them with the skills and talent needed to build the lives they deserve.”
The provincial tuition waiver program for former youth in care has been expanded to include all former youth in care, regardless of age. The program is no longer capped on a person’s 27th birthday. This program is also available to those who turn or have turned 19 with B.C. children and family development ministry or Indigenous Child and Family Service Agency legal status, regardless of time spent in care.
“We want young people from care to have as many opportunities as possible when it comes to accessing post-secondary studies,” said Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development. “We are breaking down barriers, making access to post-secondary education more equitable and providing holistic support to former youth in care across the province. The tuition waiver program, in addition to others under the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s Strengthening Abilities and Journeys of Empowerment Program, addresses a wide range of needs, enabling more adults to access supports to reach their full potential on their terms.”
Previously, tuition waiver recipients had to be under the age of 27 and had to have been in care for 24 months, consecutive or accumulative. Government has expanded the program to include former youth in care of all ages who have been in care for 24 months. In addition, those who turn or have turned 19 in care are eligible, regardless of time spent in care. The total provincial funding is $19.2 million over three years.
Eligible former youth in care of any age can receive free tuition at all 25 public post-secondary institutions, the Native Education College and approved union-based trades training providers. This expansion also includes the introduction of a new $3,500 grant to support educational costs, such as books, computers and supplies.
Approximately 2,300 students have accessed Provincial Tuition Waiver Program since its implementation in 2017, resulting in $16.6 million in tuition and fees waived. The program expansion is expected to support an additional 1,200 students who are currently enrolled in post-secondary programs and result in an estimated increase of 1,000 to 1,500 program participants per year. In total, this program extension will create opportunities for approximately 50,000 former youth in care in B.C.
The Provincial Tuition Waiver Program covers a wide range of undergraduate study options, including courses leading to a certificate, diploma or undergraduate degree, non-credit courses, apprenticeship programs and continuing education courses.