Summary: Canada Student Grant funding for students with disabilities requesting Academic Strategists has been cut without warning, and a review of the program is necessary to support students with disabilities to attain success at post-secondary institutions.
Concern: There has been a sudden and drastic decrease in the amount of funding that is being approved for students under the Canada Student Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities for Academic Strategist services.
In past years, students have been submitting requests for Academic Strategists and have received the amount requested, up to the maximum of $2700 per year. The current message from Student Aid Alberta is that from now on, there will be very little support for students who have previously accessed Academic Strategist services and limited support for new students.
The message we have received from Student Aid Alberta is that new students may be allowed to access up to 10 hours of support in their first semester, and almost no support thereafter.
Many students rely on the support of an Academic Strategist to successfully navigate the demands of post-secondary courses. The students who use these services have permanent disabilities, meaning that the supports they get are meant to accommodate for the barriers they experience as a result of their disability. These barriers do not change over time. In most cases, the medical/assessment reports provided for the students indicate that this is a life-long barrier.
There was no warning of this change from Student Aid, and no communication to students to expect a dramatic decrease in funds. Students signed up for their courses with no reason to think that the support of the Academic Strategist would be declined, and were depending on this as part of their accommodations for the year.
Student Aid is citing their policy as the reason for this change. They have said that in previous years, they did not have the resources to properly evaluate these requests. In fact, their policy does state that "Students usually require 10 hours in the first term and progressively less as they progress through their academic program." However, the policy also states that students may be awarded up to a "maximum of $1,350 per term".
This change is the result of Student Aid following only one part of their policy and ignoring other parts that set out maximum amounts available. Furthermore, it does not follow the previously established practice of awarding more support to students on an ongoing basis. Neither students nor service providers were notified of this change in advance and therefore no provisions have been made to support these students. The result leaves students without the support that they have counted on in the past and most definitely will impact their success as students!
Here are several ways you can get involved - please do as many as you can!
Write a letter or send an email to The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Government of Canada. Click on the link, download it to your computer, print and send. Feel free to add your personal thoughts to the letter. You do not need a stamp!
Write a letter or send an emailto The Honourable Marlin Schmidt, Minister of Advanced Education, Government of Alberta. Click on the link, download it to your computer, print and send. Feel free to add your personal thoughts to the letter. You do not need a stamp!
Write a letter or send an email to your Member of Parliament. Click on the link, download it to your computer, add the name of your MP (find it here), print and send. Feel free to add your personal thoughts to the letter. You do not need a stamp!
Write a letter or send an email to your Member of the Legislative Assembly. Click on the link, download it to your computer, add the name of your MLA (find it here), print and send. Feel free to add your personal thoughts to the letter.You do not need a stamp!