Close to 200 students applied for financial assistance as a result of the recent grant awarded to Bermuda College offered by the new Progressive Labour Party government in its first 100 days in office.
Updating MPs on the pledge to provide financial support to ensure access to Bermuda College courses for all Bermuidans to increase “job training and prepare them to fill jobs held by guest workers”, Education Minister Diallo Rabain said a total of 183 students met the criteria.
In a Ministerial Statement delivered in the House on Friday, Mr Rabain stressed that the funding was “not additional monies allocated to the Ministry of Education and Workforce Development, but rather a reallocation of funds within the Ministry”, to financially assist students enrolled in three categories of study. The three categories include Academic Division courses, professional and career Education (PACE) programmes (a new benefit) and Bachelor degree programmes.
“As a result of this grant, Bermuda College received 197 applications during the nine-day period between the press conference to announce the grant and the application date,” said Minister Rabain.
“Of the 197 applicants, 131 requested financial support to enroll in courses offered by the academic divisions, and 66 requested funding to enroll in courses administered by the PACE Division. Of the PACE applications, 18 students were seeking funding for the Bachelor Degree programme offered by Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU) through Bermuda College.
“The financial awards granted ranged from 30 percent to 80 percent of a student’s educational costs, with the educational costs defined as the value of tuition plus fees. Students were required to complete an application form in addition to a financial worksheet to demonstrate financial need. Also current students needed to have a grade point average (GPA) of 2.00 or higher,” he added.
He noted that “the main criteria in determining financial need was a comparison between the applicant’s annual household income and the median household income of $102,024 as reported in the 2013 Household Expenditure Survey Report, which is the latest available produced by the Department of Statistics”. But other factors were considered as well.
Those factors included:
- The number of persons supported by the household income;
- The monthly balance of income and expenses as demonstrated by the financial worksheet;
- Educational costs funded by the household income such as child care, other dependents at Bermuda College or overseas; and,
- Any extensive debt owed such as medical bills, credit associations, etc.
The 86 students who enrolled in the college’s Academic Divisions all received funding. Another 40 recipients, “who had already received the maximum available funding from Bermuda College’s financial aid programme, were also granted financial support as a result of a needs assessment conducted during the Bermuda College Financial Aid process”.
“Hence a total of 126 awards were granted to students enrolled in Academic Division courses. Of the 126, 54 are new students to Bermuda College and 72 are returning students,” said Mr Rabain.
“The total amount paid out to the 126 students enrolled in Academic Division courses was $102,501.50. The minimum amount received by students was $132, while the maximum amount a student received was $1,760.00. On average, the amount received per student enrolled in the Academic Divisions was $813.50.”
In all, 66 students applied for the awards being offered for the first time. On the funding awards for PACE courses, 63 students received funding. Another 46 students registered for the open enrolment courses while the remaining 17 enrolled in the Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU) Bachelor of Business Administration degree programme.
The Minister also noted that “the PACE Division of the Bermuda College serves the non-traditional students by offering both professional and workforce development training”. “This helps individuals achieve both professional and career goals in the work place. As a result of the funding provided, this Division received 56 new registrants of which the majority of students were unemployed, while the remainder were temporary, seasonal and part-time employees,” he said.
“The total amount of funds provided to PACE students was $91,212.53. Awards in the amount of $43,869.60 went to the 46 open enrolment students; and $47,342.93to the 17 MSVU students. The minimum amount of financial support to the open enrolment students was $235 while the maximum was $2,312.
“On average, the amount received per student was $953.69. The MSVU students received between $385 and $5,444.42 with the average amount received totaling $2,784.88.
“Approximately $193,714.03 has been expensed to date from the $300,000 grant to the Bermuda College, leaving a balance of $106,285.97 which will be used to assist students with their tuition in the 2018 Spring semester,” he added.
In closing, the Minister said there was one more statistic worth noting. “Sixty-seven percent of students who received financial support to participate in the Academic Divisions, and, 98 percent of students supported in courses offered by the PACE Division, received the maximum financial award reflecting 80 percent of their total educational costs.
“This stemmed from the fact that the student’s annual household income was less than $51,012 which represents 50 percent of the 2013 median household income in Bermuda, and which is also the widely used definition of ‘poverty’. This is significant and underscores the need for the establishment of a living wage in Bermuda; and it underscored this Government’s position to have a better and fairer Bermuda for Bermudians. As such, we will continue the provision of all available resources as needed, to ensure job training courses at the Bermuda College for all Bermudians.”
When contacted by Bermuda Real, college President Dr Duranda Greene said: “Bermuda College is grateful to the Government and the Minister for affording us the opportunity to be able to significantly assist our students this semester.
“Hopefully, we can continue to provide support so that no student is left out of higher education opportunities because of a lack of funding. Bermuda College, as a NEASC-accredited institution, still provides the ‘best deal in town’ with cost and value; but even so, it is a sad reality that there are many who still cannot afford to come. It is disheartening to see the number of people living below the poverty line, and we want to be able to assist those students for who higher education remains out of reach.”
- Featured Photo Courtesy of DCI at the News Conference Held to Announce the Funding for Students in Need