PEI

New funding adds up to free tuition for some Island students, province says

Post-secondary students will be getting more incentive to study and stay on Prince Edward Island with $3.3 million earmarked for bursaries and grants from the 2018 provincial budget.

$3.3M earmarked for bursaries and grants from the 2018 provincial budget

When combined with other supports from the federal government, more than 1,000 qualifying Island students will receive enough in bursaries for free tuition, according to the 2018 budget document. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Post-secondary students will be getting more incentive to study and stay on Prince Edward Island with $3.3 million earmarked for bursaries and grants from the 2018 provincial budget.

When combined with other supports from the federal government, more than 1,000 qualifying Island students will receive enough in bursaries for free tuition, according to the budget document released Friday.

Every Island student earning their first degree on P.E.I. at UPEI and Maritime Christian College will get up to an additional $3,600 under the new Island Advantage bursary. That's in addition to the $5,200 students already receive during a four-year degree through the George Coles Bursary, the Island Student Award and the George Coles Graduate Bursary.

$2.2K a year for 4-year degree

Through the new and old bursaries, Island students at UPEI and Maritime Christian could will receive $2,200 for each year of a four-year degree.

The province says 2,256 students received the George Coles or other provincial bursaries in 2017.

"As our economy thrives, we need more of our young people to stay on P.E.I. and be equipped to be our next leaders in all fields," the province says in the budget document.

Every Island student attending Holland College and College de I'Ile for their first diploma will get an additional $1,200 from the Island Advantage bursary. That's in addition to the $3,200 to $4,200 students receive through the George Coles Bursary and Island Skills Award during a two-year diploma.

Debt reduction grants

For students that meet income requirements for the Canada Student Grant, an additional Island Advantage bursary will be available for students attending publicly funded post-secondary institutions on P.E.I. The bursary will provide additional supports for students whose financial needs are greatest, according to the 2018 budget.

In an effort to keep people on P.E.I. and attract Island graduates living elsewhere to move home, starting in the 2018-19 academic year, Island students will be eligible for $3,500 in debt reduction grants per year of study if they live on P.E.I. within three years after graduation. This grant is available for both students that study on P.E.I. or attend post-secondary schools outside the province so no matter where a student has studied, if they live on P.E.I. after graduation they can see up to $14,000 of their provincial student loan forgiven. About 1,300 students are eligible for this grant, according to the province. For years prior to 2018-19, these same graduating students will still be able to receive $2,000 per year of study. 

The province will also be doubling the annual increase in funding to publicly funded institutions to a two per cent increase in operating income.

Mental health supports

The province said it will sign a multi-year funding agreement with UPEI and seek to confirm a similar arrangement with Holland College and College de I'Ile.

"This predictable, multi-year funding will allow the institutions to better plan for their future operations," said the budget document.

There will also be more funding for mental health supports for post-secondary students with a new mental health supports fund that will provide $25 per student at UPEI, Holland College, and College de I'Ile, with $200,000 per year in funding.

The province said this is the largest single investment in non-repayable assistance for post-secondary students for the Island.

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About the Author

Krystalle Ramlakhan is a multi-platform journalist with CBC Ottawa. She has also worked for CBC in P.E.I., Winnipeg and Iqaluit.