Maintaining program eligibility for full-time student loans shouldn't be a mystery. If your target student population is relying on student loans to fund their education, these are the important factors of program eligibility worth considering before making major changes and potentially losing that funding source.
BC is RRU’s home province so we are primarily concerned with meeting StudentAid BC’s program eligibility requirements. While every provincial ministry responsible for student loans must follow some basic Canada Student Loan program regulations, each has the authority to set additional criteria. For out-of-province residents, eligibility is often defaulted to the home province’s designation.
We've sleuthed out these relevant regulations from the 2015-16 StudentAid BC Policy Manual (mostly paraphrased). You can retrieve the full manual here https://studentaidbc.ca/institution-officials
1. The program of studies must be offered and delivered at 100 percent of a full course load. For student loan purposes at RRU it is:
- for undergraduate programs 3.75 credits per month
- for graduate programs 1.83 credits per month
2. If there is a program offered at 100 percent of a full course load, a student may choose reduce their course load to at least 60 percent (40 percent for students with permanent disabilities) and retain full time status. This brings certain blended programs into the realm of eligibility. 60 percent at RRU is a minimum of:
- for undergraduate programs 2.25 credits per month
- for graduate programs 1.098 credits per month
3. Distance education, blended learning or online programs may be eligible for student financial assistance if students will earn the same number of academic credits in the same time period as students in other StudentAid BC-eligible programs delivered onsite at the same institution for each level of degree (i.e. certificate, undergrad, graduate, doctoral).
4. Breaks in full-time study are permitted as long as the combined break time does not exceed 10 percent of the total study period for the program. No break can be longer than two consecutive weeks, with the exception of the calendar year-end break, which can be up to three weeks in length.
5. The following programs are not eligible for StudentAid BC funding:
- Programs of study such as executive programs that are designed specifically to meet the needs of full-time members of the labour force (e.g. RRU's MBA program).
- Brokered courses (when an institution provides a formal credential while another agency/institution provides the actual program of study)
- Personal development, hobby, self-interest or similar programs (e.g. non-credit Continuing Studies courses)
Each spring, the Financial Aid team reviews student loan eligibility for RRU's programs. When it meets the above criteria we report eligibility to StudentAid BC on behalf of RRU. Along with this certification of eligibility, we submit a list of suitable study periods to the government with tuition, fee, and book costs. We're permitted teeny tiny program changes like shifting the program start date few days forward or backward but that's pretty well it before we must report changes in eligibility.