Saskatchewan

Confusion over education credit for residential school survivors

The deadline for residential school survivors to apply for a $3000 education credit is just days away and thousands of applicants have reported troubles filling out the forms and getting approval.

Saskatchewan student struggling to receive payment, process is confusing as deadline approaches.

Connor Standingready is hoping to use the education credits for computer technology. (CBC)

The deadline for residential school survivors to apply for a $3000 education credit is just days away and thousands of applicants have reported troubles filling out the forms and fitting the criteria.

Connor Standingready is a full-time student who also works part-time. He's one of many trying to access school-related funds before the Oct. 31 deadline. 

There is approximately $300 million left over in unclaimed benefits from the common experience settlement for residential school survivors. That money is now being offered in the form of education credits. 

Both of Standingready's parents went to residential school. Each has applied for the credit on his behalf.

So far, they haven't been successful. His tuition is paid by the federal aboriginal affairs ministry. Standingready wants the additional money to buy computer technology so he can access course materials.

That's because he is completely blind in one eye, and the computer technology would help with assignments.

But the family is having trouble finding out if they fit the criteria.

"Who can really benefit from it? So for example children with special needs whose tuition is covered by Indian or Aboriginal Affairs — they're definitely going to have a hard time accessing this grant," said Standingready. 

Connor Standingready hasn't had any luck cashing in on the $3000 in education credits. (CBC)
Connor's mother Darlene Standingready said she's been trying to apply for the tuition credit since January and still isn't sure if the application will be accepted. 

"I don't think it's fair for us but you can imagine what other people are going through," she said. "It's a long process and you get a lot of disappointment on the way."

After months of phone calls to the help line and attempting to find an eligible institution that would help pay for Connor's needs, she hopes the money can now be applied to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind so Connor can cover costs associated with his disability. 

"It was a trying time and it's still not here. It's still not finished. So it'll be trying until it's complete I guess."

After the tuition credit program expires, any leftover money will be transferred to the Inuvialuit Education Foundation and a new educational trust fund run by the National Indian Brotherhood.

That program would have its own set of critieria.

The Standingreadys doubt they will ever be able to access the money if that happens. 

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