Concordia students are truly disadvantaged when it comes to financial
Roger Côté, Director of Financial Aid and Awards, says that
our undergraduate students are getting only about one-third of the scholarships
and bursaries provided to the average Ontario university student.
The assertion is based on a 1996 comparison between the private aid given
to Ontario and some Quebec universities with the financial aid available
at Concordia. While the data is four years old, Côté said
that the current picture is not likely to be brighter.
Thanks to the recent capital campaign, Concordias annual disbursement
of scholarships and bursaries has certainly increased from $389,823
in 1995-96 to $643,525 last year but Ontario is in the third year
of applying provincial legislation that gives 30 per cent of tuition increases
back to institutions for student aid.
Many universities in other parts of Canada and in the U.S. give an entrance
scholarship to virtually every student, and in-course scholarships abound.
At Concordia, only 592 out of 21,877 undergraduates got scholarships or
bursaries a paltry 2.7 per cent!
About 700 applied for entrance bursaries, but only 25 could be given,
Côté said sadly. When it comes to aid for students in the
midst of their studies, the story is just as pathetic: 282 in-course bursary
recipients out of 900 applicants.
Unlike most other provinces, however, Quebec has kept its tuition a bargain.
Students here pay $2,315 for their tuition and fees, and $1,291 for their
books and materials.
But its the living expenses that are the killer. While students
still living with their folks pay about $3,380 for their basic living
expenses, students trying to make it on their own have to come up with
$11,960 just to get by.
About half the students who attend Concordia are getting some kind of
financial aid in most cases, a student loan. Côtés
office has averaged expenses and likely revenue from earnings and student
aid, and it shows a likely shortfall of $3,464. In other words, the average
student not only incurs debt, but cant even meet current expenses.
These students are getting some relief from the federal governments
Millennium Scholarship Fund. Quebec took issue with this incursion into
its jurisdiction over education, and the wrangling went on for a year.
Eventually a formula was worked out whereby half the money allocated to
Quebec went for education infrastructure. The other half went toward lowering
the loan levels by about $1,000 for student loan recipients.
Still, for many, its a desperate situation. Its hard
to see promising students leave our office empty-handed, Côté
said. We know that if they interrupt their education, theres
a chance they wont come back.
The answer is to increase our appeals to individuals and corporations
who can help. And that appeal, say the fundraisers, has to be spread around
as widely as possible. A small handful of generous donors cant do
it all alone.