Manitoba continues to offer some of the most affordable, accessible and high-quality post-secondary education in the country by introducing a new student grant, improving Manitoba’s bursaries and providing earlier access to the province’s tuition rebate program, putting an extra estimated $7.5 million back into students’ pockets annually, Advanced Education and Literacy Minister Diane McGifford announced today.
“Our government’s commitment to a sustainable post-secondary education system is reflected in Budget 2010, ensuring that tuition remains affordable and the opportunities provided by a college and university education remain accessible,” McGifford said. “Our balanced funding approach keeps the focus on students and will keep post-secondary education affordable and accessible while ensuring colleges and universities can continue to offer the high-quality research and education programs that are integral to developing a highly qualified workforce.”
The minister announced a new, one-of-a-kind Student Success Grant program. This program will provide $640,000 to help students in undergraduate programs who have unmet financial needs beyond their combined bursary and maximum student loan amounts. Post-secondary institutions have agreed to cost-share this grant, which means students who qualify may receive up to $10,000 in additional support.
Budget 2010 also enhances the 60 per cent Tuition Fee Income Tax Rebate by providing college and university students with earlier access to a portion of the rebate while they are still in school. Effective this fall, up to five per cent of the tuition fees paid by students each year can be claimed in advance of their graduation, providing additional financial assistance when they need it most.
Other support for students and Manitoba’s post-secondary education system includes:
· $1 million more for Bright Futures, bringing total funding to $3 million for community-based programs that help students who are under-represented and face socio-economic barriers to complete high school and plan for a post-secondary education;
· a $23.9 million or 4.5 per cent increase in university and college operating budgets including an average two per cent base operating grant for universities and an increase of 2.5 per cent for continuing implementation of specific initiatives such as:
- expanding the University of Manitoba’s faculty of medicine capacity to 110 seats from 100;
- expanding the highly successful Internationally Educated Engineers Qualification program to 40 seats from 25;
- expanding Brandon University’s psychiatric nursing faculty to 32 from 25 seats;
- expanding the universitaire de Saint-Boniface’s (CUSB) nursing program to 38 seats from 30;
- establishing a new 15-seat social work program at CUSB;
- providing additional support for University College of the North regional centres; and
· capital funding of $76.7 million to support ongoing capital commitments, such as infrastructure stimulus projects under the Knowledge Infrastructure Program, deferred maintenance at the four universities and Project Domino at the University of Manitoba.
The minister noted Budget 2010 provides funding of $640,000 to continue the Rural and Northern Bursary. Introduced in 2009, it provides approximately 1,000 students with additional non-repayable financial support in recognition that relocation or commuting expenses may present a barrier to rural and northern students wishing to pursue a post-secondary education in Manitoba.
“We are proud of our track record of keeping post-secondary education among the most affordable in the country,” said McGifford. “Our government has provided nearly $168 million in non-repayable student financial assistance through grants, scholarships and bursaries since 1999. Provincial student aid funding has increased by $11 million or 166 per cent over 1999 levels.”
Manitoba students pay the second-lowest average college tuition and the third-lowest university tuition fees in Canada, she said.