Students receiving Nova Scotia Student Assistance this year can expect a one-time payment of $750 next month.
Approximately 13,000 students enrolled in Nova Scotia’s universities, NSCC and private career colleges will receive the COVID-19 Response Grant, the province announced Monday. The money is to cover extra costs associated with post-secondary education during a pandemic.
“We know many students are facing additional financial challenges due to COVID-19,” Lena Metlege Diab, minister of Labour and Advanced Education, said in a news release. “This grant will help provide extra funding support and ensure students who are most in need can continue to receive the quality education they deserve.”
Students do not have to apply for the money. The grant will be deposited directly to a student’s bank account, similar to the process of a student loan payment. Most of the funding will be dispersed in January, with the remaining given out in the spring and summer. The funding will come from the Department of Labour and Advanced Education’s budget.
Students Nova Scotia applauded the government’s decision. The organization has been advocating for the grant since November, said executive director Clancy McDaniel.
She said this year poses unique challenges for students who rely on software or technology they would typically access at school, particularly those students learning remotely in rural areas.
“I’m from Brook Village, Cape Breton. I would be hopeless if I had to log into a Zoom lecture,” McDaniel said in an interview.
Many students from areas with poor internet would be forced to move closer to towns with better connectivity, resulting in increased rent, McDaniel said. “If you don’t have access to technology … you were not going to be able to pursue your studies.”
While Students Nova Scotia had asked the government for non-repayable aid to help students with the cost of technology, McDaniel said she’s glad the government defined the funding more broadly.
With $750, “we know it’s not going to tie up all of the loose ends,” she said. “We’re happy to see where we’re at, but we are continuing to push for increasing the maximum allowances so that students are actually being given more aid overall.”
The overall amount of annual student loans and grants has not been increased since 2017, she said.