Conestoga and the province’s other public colleges are calling on the Ontario government to increase financial support for low-income students who want to pursue post-secondary education.
“We need to provide opportunities for all qualified students to access the post-secondary education they need to achieve their full potential and contribute to the knowledge economy,” said John Tibbits, president of Conestoga. “The government should make enhanced support for low-income students a priority in its upcoming budget.”
It is particularly important to help more students enrol in the career-focused programs at Ontario’s colleges, which are designed to provide learners with the skills and knowledge to address workforce needs. More than 50 per cent of college applicants have household incomes of less than $60,000.
One step the province should take to enhance student support would be to reform the eligibility requirements for the 30% Off Ontario Tuition grant that was introduced in 2012.
Currently, the grant is available only to students who graduated from high school within the past four years. The majority of college students don’t come directly from high school. As a result, many low-income college students are not eligible to apply for the grant.
Revising the eligibility criteria to support more low-income students would strengthen the professional and technical skills of Ontario’s workforce.
“Providing better support to students who need financial help is a sound investment in our future prosperity,” said Tibbits. “This year’s budget provides an opportunity to strengthen Ontario’s commitment to low-income students.”
Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning is a leader in polytechnic education, delivering career-focused education, training and applied research to prepare students for success in the new knowledge economy and promote economic prosperity throughout our region and across Ontario. The college serves approximately 12,000 full-time students each year and is a provincial leader in apprenticeship training. Almost 89 per cent of Conestoga’s 2013-14 graduates attained employment within six months of graduation.