The University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) in Prince George is making it easier for current or former youth in the care of a government agency to attend university.
The new Youth in Care Tuition Waiver will cover the full tuition cost of a first undergraduate degree or certificate for a young person who has spent time as a youth in care under the provincial Child, Family and Community Services Act.
“Youth in care face a tremendous number of barriers during childhood and adolescence,” says social work professor Glen Schmidt, who pushed the proposal forward at UNBC.
“By waiving tuition fees for those youth in care who decide to attend UNBC, the university is removing another potential barrier and providing more young people with the opportunity to meet their educational goals.”
In 2013 British Columbia’s Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond challenged all post-secondary institutions in the province to waive tuition for youth in care.
Vancouver Island University was the first to act, and Schmidt said he started the process of getting UNBC to offer a waiver after talking to colleagues at other institutions.
“Waiving the cost of tuition is an important first step toward inspiring children and youth in care and giving them the opportunity to succeed alongside their peers,” says Turpel-Lafond.
“It eliminates a major barrier to higher education and is a sound investment in our province’s most vulnerable young people.”
In order to qualify for the tuition waiver, prospective students must be residents of B.C., currently live or recently have lived as a youth in care, and meet all the admission requirements for the program they wish to enter.
The waiver is renewable each year the student maintains satisfactory academic standing until the student completes a first undergraduate degree or certificate program.