Acquiring a Laurier bursary

According to Ruth MacNeil, associate registrar of Student Awards, 3,700 Wilfrid Laurier University undergraduates and graduates were qualified for bursary assistance last year with an increase of students who have applied and are able to receive bursaries.

Students who are in school for eight months, and filled out the general tuition bursary application, can expect their application to be processed and assessed between February and March. Students in co-op have two opportunities, as they essentially return to school twice, to apply for bursary assistance.

Although the process is the same for all bursaries, the awards come from two pools of money.

One pool consists of donor-supported bursaries distributed on an annual basis from alumni or individuals who have donated to the school. The second pool is a tuition set aside fund, where the majority of funding is from bursary assistance.

The range of money awarded depends on the student’s financial need and can be between $250 to $700 or $1,000 of bursary assistance. Usually students who are showing less financial need will be granted on their budget assessments. Other bursaries with specific criteria, such as program-specific grants, are evaluated more deeply.

“So with that regard, we drill a little deeper into our number of students who have applied to match those up and make sure that we are meeting the terms and conditions for bursary support, along with the financial need component,” said Ruth MacNeil, associate registrar of Student Awards.

The amount of money in the bursary fund every year is mandated by the provincial government and is usually 10 per cent of tuition allocated to the fund on an annual basis.

“I think we have seen an increased number of students who are requiring bursary assistance. We recognize the financial stress students are faced with and our bursary fund, while it is limited, we try to help as many students as we possibly can to get through to the end of the semester,” MacNeil explained.

The Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union was a donor, but they no longer contribute annually.

Over time, the Students’ Union made donations to the university and built up endowments, according to Dan Robert, associate director and development of athletics, student affairs and the Laurier Library. The value of these endowments is $2.276 million.

In this current cycle, there is $191,000 available to students. The Students’ Union has a number of financial aid opportunities that have been created and endowed over the years, meaning the university invests money on behalf of the donor and the interest earned is what is given out to students on an annual basis.

The Students’ Union was the donor for the following six financial aid opportunities – Accessible Learning Accommodation Bursary, Jim Wilgar Bursary Fund for non-Ontario Residents, Jim Wilgar Bursary Fund for Ontario Residents, Laurier Brantford Toronto Award, Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union Brantford Award and Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union Award.

Similar to the general tuition bursary application, these same opportunities are made available through student awards.

Robert said the goal is to have 100 per cent of the financial aid given back to the students. However, there are some very specific qualifications for awards, such as the student must come from a specific high school, that are occasionally not applicable to any students.

“A lot of students don’t know that the Students’ Union has these investments that give back to students every year. These [awards] were built at a time when the Students’ Union was in a financial situation to be contributing. As priorities change, now they’re spending money on different projects and student fees are being used differently but some of these were created back in the day. I was [in the] Students’ Union in 2005, and even before me, these were all created so they’ve been around for a while,” said Robert.

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