Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Detour Ahead: How Changes to Your Studies Can Affect Funding Eligibility

When I was a kid my family took a lot of road trips. On these trips it was often the detours that led to the best adventures; a hidden ice cream shop or picnic area, a water park, strange roadside attractions…
Like any good road trip, your education may take a detour as well. Some detours are unexpected, yet necessary, like taking time off for health or family reasons. Others are a conscious choice, like taking a break from school for a job or travel opportunity you just can’t pass up.
Detours in your education can affect your eligibility for certain funding programs. Here are some important things to know if you’re approaching a potential detour.

Government Student Assistance

When you receive government student aid—loans or grants—you enter into an agreement with the government. Part of this agreement is to remain a student for the study period indicated on your loan application.
TIP: Study period dates can be found on your student loan notice of assessment or by logging into your loan account
Reducing your course load, changing programs or schools, withdrawing from studies, or taking a leave of absence during a funded study period can affect your eligibility for government student aid.
Each lending province handles eligibility changes differently. In BC, for example, any of the above actions may lead to a withdrawal from your student loan study period. A withdrawal will result in the following:
  •  Upcoming loan and grant disbursements will not be issued
  • Student loan repayment grace period will begin on the first day of the month following the withdrawal date. i.e., interest starts collecting on your loan and repayment begins in 6 months
  • StudentAid BC will re-calculate your loan based on the number of weeks you actually attended school
  • Students who withdraw twice during a funded study period will be denied further financial assistance. Students can appeal under exceptional circumstances.

RRU Awards and Canada Graduate Scholarships

As with government assistance, making changes to your study plans can affect your eligibility for RRU awards and federal Canada Graduate Scholarship funding.
To remain eligible for an RRU Entrance or In-Course award you must be actively enrolled—that is, actually taking courses—in an RRU program for three months following the award uptake date, except if you are graduating. For Entrance Awards, the award uptake date is your first day of class. For In-Course Awards, it’s the first day of the month following the award deadline.
To remain eligible for Canada Graduate Scholarship funding (SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR) you must be actively enrolled in an RRU program for the 12-month award period.
Withdrawing or taking a leave of absence during an award period may result in one of the following:
  • If you are eligible for a tuition refund, the award will be deducted from the refund amount.
  • In certain cases we may re-calculate the award based on the date you withdrew/went on leave and request repayment of the remainder.

What to do if you need to take a detour?

Whether by choice or necessity, detours happen. Depending on your situation there are a number of people you may need to talk to if you’re making changes to your study plans, including your program associate, Student Accounts, Accessibility Services, your family, or employer.
If you have a government student loan, an RRU award, or a Canada Graduate Scholarship, you also need to contact Financial Aid & Awards. Upon request, we will look at your situation and let you know what to expect.

Other Funding

Other funding programs, like bank loans and awards outside of RRU and the Canada Graduate Scholarship program, may have their own procedures for when students make changes. You may want to contact that funder directly for instructions before making any decisions.

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