Scholarships a boost for post-secondary education

The Vernon School District’s scholarship and bursary program provides help to qualifying students...

With university fees averaging more than $5,000 per year in tuition, students need all the help they can get.

The Vernon School District’s scholarship and bursary program provides that help to qualifying students, who often find the cost of post-secondary education prohibitively expensive.

Retired teachers Barb Silvester and Mel Maglio are donor liaisons for the program, which provides cash awards to students in Grade 12 to give them a boost in pursuing their post-secondary education, whether they are planning on attending university,  college or a trades program.

Maglio said the awards — which average between $500 and $750 — are open to all students, not just those looking at university, to go towards their tuition.

“More and more students are going into the trades and technical programs,” he said.

“We’re not minimizing the importance of the university-bound student, but we are seeing more students going into the trades.”

According to Statistics Canada, Canadian full-time students in undergraduate programs paid 4.3 per cent more on average in tuition fees for the 2011/2012 academic year in September than they did a year earlier.

On average, undergraduate students paid $5,366 in tuition fees in 2011/2012 compared with $5,146 a year earlier.

The master of business administration, dental, medical and veterinary programs have been excluded from the averages to eliminate the effect of the high cost of these programs on the overall tuition fee average.

“The cost of education has gone up so much, especially for tuition, so the scholarships and bursaries can really help,” said Maglio. “And students can apply for more than one, depending on the criteria. Some get five or six, and it’s all based on their merit and then their initiative to get their applications in.”

Silvester added that every little bit helps for students who are faced with not only tuition, but text books and, in many cases, living expenses as well.

“Every dollar helps,” she said. “And we’re so lucky to have the many businesses and individuals who provide scholarships.”

There are a number of ways for donors to get involved in the program. A group or individual can provide the criteria for the selection of applicants and can decide whether to be directly involved in the selection process or not. Donations are accepted year-round.

“This is giving back to the community in a very positive way,” said Maglio, adding that all donations are most welcome, with donors recognized in a large display ad in The Morning Star.

Silvester said anyone can provide a bursary or scholarship, from the largest fraternal organization or corporation to an individual who wishes to make a one-time donation.

“Some organizations will specify that they would like their bursary to go to a student in their field, such as construction,” she said.

Counsellors at all district secondary schools promote the program and students are encouraged to get in touch with their counsellor for more information. Online applications are available beginning March 5, and students have until 3 p.m. on March 13 to submit their application.

“Students indicate the awards for which they are eligible when they fill out their application. The application is quite detailed, such as listing what they have done at school and in the community.

“As well, the counsellors take time with the students to make sure they are applying for the most appropriate awards.”

To make a donation or for more information, please contact Pam Rieger at the district office at 250-542-3311.