Province ties new tuition bursaries to family size and income
Program could help 9,000 more students at New Brunswick post-secondary schools
A new bursary program will open up tuition grants to a wider group of New Brunswick students, Premier Brian Gallant said Thursday.
Gallant, whose Liberal government came under sharp criticism for wiping out a popular tuition rebate program two years ago, said this addition to the province's financial aid offerings is called "Tuition Relief for the Middle Class."
About 9,000 students not eligible for help under the program that replaced the rebate system could receive bursaries of varying sizes under the new bursaries, expected to cost between $2.5 million and $3 million.
Bursaries will be based on the size of a student's family and its income. The amount of tuition help will decrease as a student's family income increases, until it reaches a maximum income cut-off point.
Tuition at New Brunswick post-secondary institutions averages about $6,200 a year.
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"This new program make post-secondary education more accessible … for New Brunswick students," said Gallant.
Families that fall under the program include:
- A family of one or two making up to $75,000 a year.
- A family of three making $90,000 a year a year.
- A family of four making up to $100,000 a year.
- A family of five making up to $108,500 a year.
- A family of six making up to $116,500 a year.
- A family of seven earning up to $123,500 a year.
The program will be available starting Aug. 1 to New Brunswick students who meet the criteria. Applications for financial aid are expected to be available by June 1.
Under examples provided by the government, a student from a family of three with an income of $61,000 would be eligible for a bursary of $3,614. The bursary and a Canada student grant of $2,461 would cover 98 per cent of tuition, the province said.
A student from a family of five with an income of $105,000 would be eligible for $379 from the province. The bursary and a $945 Canada student grant would cover 21 per cent of tuition.
Companion to other programs
The new program is an addition to financial assistance programs already offered to New Brunswick students, including the tuition access bursary, which was announced in 2016 to help students from families earning less than $60,000 attend a publicly funded college or university.
In 2015, the Gallant government received backlash from the public for cutting New Brunswick's tuition rebate program, which could reach a maximum of $20,000 for graduates who stayed in the province and worked after graduation.
Two student groups welcomed the new bursary program as a step forward.
"We are pleased to hear that the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour is listening to students and increasing financial accessibility," UNB Student Union president Travis Daley said in a statement.
Pushed for change
The head of the New Brunswick Student Alliance predicted students would be celebrating the program.
"We have been pushing the government for almost a year now to include a progressive income threshold for their up-front grants program," Robert Burroughs, the executive director, said in a news release.
Gallant also announced the province will provide health-care coverage to international students at New Brunswick universities and community colleges to help with out-of-pocket expenses.
Burroughs said the move would help New Brunswick recruit international students and would "play a big part in supporting the retention and post-graduation transition of these students."