Will changes to full-time student status change scholarship eligibility?

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Students taking 3 courses, who are now considered full-time, may not be eligible for certain scholarships.

(Unkown author/CurrentAffairs.org)

Changes to definition of full-time students

The SRC recently released a statement regarding the eligibility of full-time students for campus scholarships. This past summer, UNB announced that students taking three or more courses would now be considered full-time students, which would require them to pay full-time tuition – the previous criteria were four or more courses.

It was recently discovered that students who take three courses a semester are not eligible for university scholarships that require students to be full-time, even though they are now considered full-time students by the university.

SRC’s discovery of the eligibility changes

Immediately following this discovery, Patrick Hickey released a statement:

 “…The UNB-SRC has discovered that the university has left those students behind once again. Students enrolled in three courses, who are now considered full-time and pay full-time tuition, are not eligible for full-time student scholarships & bursaries on either campus. The execution of this change to the full-time student definition reflects the lack of support for our students. The SRC is demanding the university begin a thorough review of the process that led to the implementation of changes to the full-time student definition, overseen by UNB-SRC representatives…”

Students taking three courses will be eligible for some, not all

We spoke to George McLean, the VP Academic for both campuses, to find out more.

He explained the difference between a scholarship and an award/bursary. A scholarship is awarded on academic merit, and the criteria have always required a student to be enrolled in four or more courses specifically.

This has not changed with the new definition of a full-time student, as students taking only three courses do not fulfill the credit hour requirements to be eligible for these scholarships, even if they are now considered full-time.

An award or bursary is not the same as a scholarship. Its requirements are usually different, such as university activity or volunteering involvement, and have a lesser focus on student GPA. As an example, the leadership awards outlined in an e-mail by the SRC President require only a 2.0 GPA or higher, and involvement in campus or community activities.

Though some awards require four or more courses, this is not the case with all awards or bursaries. With the full-time student definition change, if an award or bursary only states the enrollment requirement as “full-time”, without a specific course minimum, full-time students taking only three courses are now eligible to apply.

Some students pleased with changes to full time definition

McLean stated that many students he spoke with were pleased with the change of the full-time student definition, as they are now eligible for certain forms of government student aid and full-time student awards and bursaries.

McLean also stated that the change of the full-time student definition to now include those taking three courses instead of four is putting UNB at the same level of the other Atlantic universities, as they already define a full-time student as one who is enrolled in three or more courses. He also stated that those universities also require four courses or more to be eligible for scholarships as it is required to meet the minimum amount of credit hours.

He stated his disappointment that the UNB-SRC did not attempt to consult him to clarify this misunderstanding and encourages students who have any questions or concerns about this policy to contact their campus’ financial aid office.

SRC argues that students should be consulted first

Hickey further responded to this statement saying the issue is not with the policy itself, but with the way it was implemented by the university: “…Students were not consulted in the implementation stage and the students affected were only told of the change a few weeks prior to the beginning of the fall semester. Because the university did not properly consult, it had many more ramifications than they thought of…”

“…It was not made clear to students how this change would affect eligibility for scholarships and bursaries, and many more scholarships and bursaries were affected… All of them [the leadership awards] had a requirement of being a full-time student and then in brackets it says four or more courses, so it is very clear that because of how rushed the change in the definition of a full-time student was, departments and the university did not even have enough time to internally change the definition of a full-time student.”

“All we are asking for is that the university complete a review of how this happened, so that it does not continue to happen. Students should be allowed to apply for full-time scholarships and bursaries if they [the university] are making them pay full-time tuition… They [the university] made a mistake in rolling out this change, and now they don’t want to admit that it had serious repercussions and effects they did not anticipate.”