As every university graduate knows, earning a degree is expensive—and stressful. Recent government figures show the average undergraduate student in British Columbia who takes out a loan for their degree will complete their studies with an estimated $28,000 in combined provincial and federal student loan debt.
That’s why UBC provides more than $100 million dollars in financial supports to students each year and why, in 2017, the university launched its Blue and Gold Campaign for Students, with a goal of raising another $100 million for student support.
“Financial uncertainty undermines a student’s ability to pursue excellence in their studies and, to some extent, in their life,” says Andrew Arida, deputy registrar of enrolment services at UBC. “Our policy is to ensure no eligible domestic student is prevented from beginning or continuing their students for financial reasons alone. We ensure financial support is made available if an eligible student exhausts their financial resources.”
In the 2018 academic year, more than 28,000 Canadian UBC students received financial assistance totalling $325.9 million—a $26.9 million (or 9 per cent) increase from the previous year. Nearly $150 million of that funding came directly from UBC, external funding or donors.
“There are many ways UBC students can qualify for financial assistance, and there are a number of options available” says Arida. “This includes bursaries, scholarship and grants based on financial need, academic merit, or a combination. The key is knowing which tools and resources are right for you, and when to apply for them. Planning in advance is crucial.”
Kate Taylor, a first-year undergraduate student at UBC Okanagan, couldn’t agree more. She was awarded a UBC Scholars Centennial Entrance Award and an Aboriginal Entrance Award, both of which will provide annual funding for all four years of her B.Sc. degree.
“I knew I was going to have to pay my own way through school, and began working and saving for it when I was 14 years old,” says Taylor. “I did a lot of research into the universities I was interested in, the financial supports that would be available to me, and what I needed to do to qualify. I started budgeting early and got involved in activities at my school and my community. It was important to me to be a deserving recipient of any scholarship I applied for, and it was really rewarding to engage with my community in all of these different ways.”
As a result of the financial awards she has received, Taylor says she feels much more relaxed about beginning university.
“I found out I was awarded the Centennial scholarship quite soon after I was offered a spot at UBC, but I wasn’t notified about the second award until this summer,” says Taylor. “I was prepared to take out student loans to fund the remaining costs of my degree, but receiving the Aboriginal award was a huge relief. It’s put my mind at ease knowing I have most of the money I need, and I have a plan to work part time to see me through the rest of my degree.”
UBC offers students a range of financial supports and resources, including financial wellness workshops, work-learn programs, tuition and cost-of-living calculators, and more. In addition, every undergraduate student on the Vancouver campus is assigned a personal Enrolment Services Advisor at the beginning of their degree. This advisor stays with the student through their studies and provides highly-personalized financial planning support.
For Sabrina Moshenko, an Indigenous undergraduate student from Canora, Saskatchewan, having a personal advisor has made planning for the financial aspects of her studies much more straightforward.
“Having that one person is incredible, because I don’t have to spend time and energy building relationships with different people in order to plan my finances,” says Sabrina. “I’ve been working with my advisor since before I started at UBC—she’s the one who notified me I’d been awarded the UBC Scholars Centennial Entrance Award! She understands where I’m coming from and exactly what my goals are. Having her as a resource, and being able to trust the relationship we’ve built, has significantly reduced the amount of stress I feel around financing my degree.”