Commitment to Island students should be fulfilled: Opposition

Island Students who completed volunteer hours to help finance their post-secondary education through the Community Service Bursary aren’t receiving what they were promised and that promise should be fulfilled, says PEI’s Official Opposition.

“Expanding the Community Bursary Program was a recommendation of the province’s own Youth Futures Council so it’s unfortunate to see this good suggestion was not followed through. This program is a win-win for students and community groups so let’s make sure this valuable partnership works like it’s supposed to for the benefit of all,” said Opposition Leader James Aylward.

Up until July 2017, students were eligible to earn $500 in tuition credits in exchange for 100 hours of volunteer work. Based on a recommendation from the province’s own Youth Futures Council the Community Service Bursary was increased to allow students to work 150 hours and earn up to $750 in tuition credits.The program was also expanded to allow grade ten students to participate. However, there seems to be a disconnect as some students were told they would receive $750 but some are only receiving $500.

“The Community Service Bursary is a great program launched in 2007 by the Pat Binns government and has helped a lot of Island high school students with their post-secondary education costs. What’s concerning is when you start hearing from students who were expecting the full amount then all of a sudden they only receive a portion of it. These students make plans months in advance to finance their education and it’s unfair for them to experience this setback now,” said Kensington-Malpeque MLA Matthew MacKay who has heard from concerned students.

One of those students affected is Fiona Steele, a first year student at St. Thomas University. Through volunteer work with Three Oaks High School she earned the maximum amount of $750 yet was surprised to learn she only received credit in the amount of $500 when the Community Services Bursary was eventually processed.

“I find the whole situation really disheartening. I completed my volunteer hours in good faith, and not only did the cheque come three months late but it is not the amount I was told it would be.  It makes it hard to plan my year when tuition and student fees are due and if I don’t get the credits I was promised it means I have to work extra shifts now to make up for it,” said Steele.