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New student aid grants support in-demand occupations

On , In College News

“Student aid grants encourage students with financial need to study in-demand programs and pursue occupations in under-served or designated communities,” said Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson. “The expanded BC Loan Forgiveness Program along with the new BC Completion Grant for Graduates will help students get out of debt faster and support a strong, growing and diverse economy.”
The BC Loan Forgiveness Program is being expanded to include more health and other specialized occupations. New health occupations include ultrasonography and medical laboratory technologists. Specialized occupations working with children in public facilities include audiologists and speech language pathologists.
Other changes to the BC Loan Forgiveness Program include ensuring that recipients work a minimum of 400 hours per year at a public health facility in an under served or designated community or school district for five years, instead of three. After five years, the outstanding B.C. portion of their student loan will be paid in full. Recipients working between 100-399 hours per year will still be eligible; however, their B.C. student loan will be forgiven by a prorated amount.
The new BC Completion Grant for Graduates program provides $500 to help students reduce their B.C. student loan after they complete programs that support in-demand occupations. Examples would be mechanical engineering or business administration. Graduates can apply for the grant starting April 1, 2015.
As part of B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint, government committed to review student financial aid grants to ensure they support in-demand occupations. The BC Completion Grant for Graduates, the BC Loan Forgiveness program, and the BC Access Grant for Labour Market Priorities encourage British Columbians to enrol and complete their studies in in-demand programs and work in under served or designated communities.
The annual cost of the Loan Forgiveness Program and the BC Completion Grant for Graduates is approximately $2.5 million each for a total of $5 million.
The BC Access Grant, introduced in September 2014, provides up to $16,400 to cover up-front costs of training, relocation expenses and tools for trades students. Since announcing the BC Access Grant for Labour Market Priorities, more than 700 students have received approximately $1.96 million.