Approved by the Senate March 30, 2000
Task Force on Student Financial Assistance
Final Report, February, 2000
Task Force Membership
Jo-Anne Bechthold, University Registrar (Chair)
Patricia Bogstad, Associate University Registrar, Student Awards
Mary-Jo Dowker, Office of the University Registrar
Jo Brett, Office of the University Registrar
Dr. Jamie Archibald, Mining & Engineering
Jane Isaacs Doyle, Graduate Student
Dr. Eric Moore, School of Graduate Studies
Chris Hales, President SPGS, 1998-99
Tom Stanley, President AMS, 1998-99
Ian Michael, Rector 1996-1998, Law Student
Dr. Michael C. Baird, Department of Chemistry
Thanks to Dr. Ruth Rees, Faculty of Education and Dr. Christine Overall, Faculty of Arts and Science, and Anna Kim, BA 1998, for their contributions.
The University will build on the strength of Queen's - students, faculty, staff, and alumni - to be among the best of internationally known universities in Canada recognized for:
In 1998 the Task Force on Student Financial Assistance was established to review the allocation and distribution of student financial assistance and to establish principles and priorities to guide the distribution of Queen's student financial assistance within the context of fulfilling Queen's mission and basic priorities, an increasingly competitive environment to attract the best students, and of prevailing government policy and its potential negative impact on university accessibility.
The Task Force reviewed existing and historical policies, reports, and allocations of student financial assistance, compiled and analysed data, and sought information from a variety of recent research initiatives into students' perceptions and experiences towards financing their university education and the impact of increasing costs.
Recommendations arising from the work of the Task Force must be viewed in terms of maximizing opportunities for Queen's students and prospective students, and cannot be viewed as either attempting to resolve the issues of increasing student debt and accessibility barriers as a direct result of government policy or as endorsements for current national or provincial policies governing student aid. The recommendations are a part of an ongoing framework for Queen's decision making reflecting Queen's mission and established principles and priorities.
The Task Force on Student Financial Assistance was struck in 1998 to review the allocation and distribution of student financial assistance expenditures in the context of fulfilling Queen's mission and basic priority to support and enhance the quality of the broader learning environment for students, faculty and staff. Queen's has had a long-standing tradition of encouraging all academically qualified students to apply for admission and has followed a generous budget strategy to ensure that financial assistance is available to students in need. There has been increased attention in the area of student aid due to increasing education costs (notably the impact of tuition increases) and the issue of the accessibility of post secondary education in general and Queen's University in particular. For many years now, Queen's has pursued a student assistance policy that is best summed up as ensuring that students with strong academic qualifications but lacking in financial means be assisted in attending and remaining at Queen's University.
The University continues to recognize the role of both the federal and provincial governments in the provision of student assistance. Increasing student debt loads are in part reflective of increasing costs, but result primarily because of shifts in government student aid policy from grant to loan-based systems. Students and their families are increasingly being required to shoulder a more substantial portion of the total costs of a university education through tuition fees, which have increased by 57% since 1992-93 (adjusted to 1998 dollars) and the total amount that students must borrow and subsequently repay has increased.
The Task Force was struck to establish principles and priorities to guide the distribution of Queen's student financial assistance within the context of prevailing government policy. Its recommendations cannot necessarily be viewed as support of broad public policy with respect to University funding or accessibility.
As we head into the new millennium, Queen's will be subject to an increasingly competitive environment for the best students, both at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels. We should expect greater emphasis to be placed on the relative levels of total costs and financial assistance (merit-based and/or need-based) available to offset these costs.
This document is presented as part of an ongoing framework for University decision making. It reflects the University's mission and is framed within Queen's essential values and principles in support of decision making, as outlined in the "Report on Principles and Priorities" approved by Senate in January 1996. This Report recognized that the changing external economic environment requires new strategies by faculty and staff for maintaining the quality of the broader learning environment, and the implications of students carrying a greater share of the cost of their education. The Report specifically recommended that to maintain the distinctive academic strength of Queen's student body, our programs of student financial aid and student support services would require enhancement:
That Queen's work with student leaders to enhance financial assistance programs (bursaries, loans, and scholarships) and promote development of academic and non-academic student support services.
Student financial aid policies must be premised on Queen's essential value that supports the:
equal dignity of all persons: Queen's cherishes the diversity of human experience and background, and supports the freedom of individuals to study, teach, work and carry out research without fear of harassment, intimidation or discrimination.
The Task Force was charged with defining a set of principles to guide the distribution of student financial assistance at Queen's within the context of an increasingly competitive environment to attract the best students, and of prevailing government policy and its potential negative impact on university accessibility. Recommendations arising from the work of the Task Force must be viewed in terms of maximizing opportunities for Queen's students and prospective students. The discussion and recommendations cannot be interpreted as either attempting to resolve the issues of increasing student debt and accessibility barriers created as a direct result of government policy directives or as endorsements or support for current policies governing student aid in this province, or indeed in Canada. Furthermore, while discussions of student financial assistance implicitly reflect the University's need to maximize the amount of operating revenue from student fees to help offset the major decline in government grant, the Task Force makes no recommendations about Queen's tuition policy which was outside the scope of the committee's mandate.
The Task Force identified five primary terms of reference to help guide discussion and principle and priority setting, as follows:
A more comprehensive description of the Terms of Reference is included in Appendix One.
"To review the policies and practices governing the allocation and distribution of all Queen's student financial assistance."
The Task Force reviewed existing and historical policies and allocations of student financial assistance, this included compiling and analysing data and examining many reports. An examination of all components that comprise student assistance at Queen's was also conducted. This review included a thorough analysis of existing Queen's financial aid programs, in addition to researching government and external student aid packages as they relate to all students. A summary of the current graduate and undergraduate student support environment and options (internal and external) is included in Appendix Two.
Student financial assistance policies are traditionally established by Senate on recommendation of the Senate Committee on Scholarships and Student Aid (SCSSA), and are driven and constrained by the level and availability of funding.
Budget policy has traditionally been generous. Our student financial assistance programs are funded through a combination of University operating funds and donated funds. University operating funds are allocated each year, and through long-standing practice, have increased annually in direct relation to annual increases in tuition. Historically the focus had been on undergraduate merit-based scholarships and graduate student funding. Over several years as government operating grants have dramatically declined and tuition fees have increased, expenditures on need-based financial assistance have grown even more substantially.
That being said, it is noted that need is not explicitly a factor in the administration of graduate student funding by the School of Graduate Studies and Research. Graduate student support must be flexible enough to maintain competition for top quality students, and, also to provide a base level of funding support for students. "Packages" of funding support are sent with offers of admission (see Appendix Two for further detail). Additional funding is required to maintain competition for top quality students, and the graduate school must practice vigilance and continually assess the manner in which graduate student support is allocated.
The 1998/99 – 1999/2000 Statement on Proposed Tuition clearly annunciated Queen's position that "student assistance will be available for students in need with the goals of ensuring that no student will have to leave Queen's as a direct result of the proposed tuition increases and students with strong academic qualifications but lacking in financial means be assisted in attending Queen's."
Since 1996-97 Queen's approach has been further augmented by the provincial requirement to "re-invest" a share (10% in 1996/97; 30% thereafter) of tuition increases into need-based student assistance, and the Ontario Student Opportunity Trust Fund (OSOTF), an initiative of the provincial government to match private donations to Ontario universities for endowments for need-based student financial assistance. Increased attention to need-based assistance is evident in federal initiatives also, including for example tax relief measures and a Millennium Scholarship Endowment Fund which will provide a total outlay of $3 billion over 10 years and is available to its first recipients this current academic year.
In an environment of rising tuition, Queen's University has demonstrated a commitment to accessibility of a university education to academically qualified students of limited financial means.
To establish a set of principles to guide the establishment of financial assistance policies and practices for the future.
Currently the Student Awards Office exercises judgement and discretion to prioritize the allocation and distribution of student financial assistance. In the context of increasing educational costs and associated growth in financial assistance available to students, the lack of explicit institutional principles and priorities has never been more evident.
The Task Force observed that the focus of student assistance nationally, provincially and at the University level has traditionally been for the domestic, full-time student population. More specific population gaps in the focus of student assistance include: international undergraduate students (upon entrance), and graduate need-based assistance for longer-term students (i.e. post two year Master's and four year Doctoral students).
At the graduate level reasons for taking longer than expected are complex. They reflect (in no particular order) variations in the external job market, low funding levels in the social sciences and humanities, differential involvement of supervisors in students' research and, perhaps, different cultures in the social sciences and humanities. This is not a Queen's specific problem but is evident in statistics from across the country and the United States. Extenuating time to completion does affect the likelihood of accumulating debt and we should be concerned about the effect this has on students.
In accordance with the University's mission and established essential values, Queen's commitment to diversity of student population, academic pursuits, faculty, and research must be reflected in the allocation and distribution of student financial assistance.
To review the impact on students and prospective students of increasing tuition and the associated costs of pursuing a degree at Queen's.
The Task Force sought information from a variety of recent and commissioned research initiatives into students' perceptions, attitudes, and experiences towards financing their university education. Summaries of this research, including result highlights, are included in Appendix Three. This research supports what had been suspected, that Queen's students, like others across the province, are not adequately prepared before beginning University in terms of knowledge of, or planning for, the costs of their education. While Queen's students did report a far greater awareness, than other students in Ontario universities surveyed, of the services and funding available from the Student Awards Office, it is clear that both prospective and in-course students need to be fully informed about the costs of a Queen's education and opportunities available to help finance those costs. Recent evidence suggests that application rates have not diminished as a result of increased tuition costs. In fact the total number of applicants to all Ontario universities for 1999/2000 increased to a level beyond what could be expected from demographic factors alone. The Ontario Universities' Application Centre (OUAC) calculated that the participation rate also increased by approximately 2%, which translated into an increase in enrolment across the Ontario system. Evidence from the research efforts confirms that it is the quality of Queen's programs, rather than the cost of tuition, that is the important factor in the decision to attend Queen's. As we move toward a more deregulated tuition environment, however, continued vigilance in research and monitoring is required through conducting, for example, applicant and student surveys, yield analyses of admission offers, and exit surveys of students who leave their programs before completing.
To research the feasibility of adopting a policy of needs-blind admission.
A means-blind admission practice requires asking each candidate offered admission to complete a needs-assessment. The Task Force discussed at length the implications of such a policy at the undergraduate level, particularly in terms of the high costs associated in providing the financial assistance, and what the financial assistance "package" might include (packages of scholarship and/or bursary, work study, possibly summer jobs and loans). There are high administrative costs in implementing a strategy that ensures that despite limited financial means or resources competitively qualified students from across Canada and around the world have the opportunity to pursue degree studies (i.e. entrance through graduation) at Queen's. The University should be aggressive in seeking money for awards based on both merit and need.
It is important that need assessment itself be measured as uniformly as possible, yet weaknesses with current government assistance measurement tools are recognized. Government assistance programs are not comprehensive in their assessment of costs. The University should review basic educational costs annually, and these need to be clearly communicated to students beginning and throughout their academic careers. Basic need should be defined in relation to these basic educational costs in the allocation of student financial assistance. Queen's student financial assistance can only complement students' financing, not replace it.
The current staffing and organizational structure is not adequate to support a Queen's specific need assessment tool. Additional funding to implement a streamlined, automated, consistent, and fair needs assessment system will be required (see Appendix Five, McConnell Foundation Submission).
To recommend communication strategies to educate and inform the University community of costs, responsibilities and opportunities for financial assistance in pursuing a degree at Queen's.
The lack of transparency and information available regarding the allocation and distribution of funding leads to misunderstanding and misconceptions. A comprehensive, thorough, repetitive and consistent communication strategy for all students (prospective, incoming, continuing and graduating) and for all other members of the University community (staff, faculty, alumni) is required. This strategy should include clear information on the expected "basic education costs" associated with pursuing a program to completion, in addition to clear information on all of the financial assistance options and resources that are available to students. Full disclosure of information on the allocation and distribution of funding, as recommended here to be prepared by the SCSSA, is required. While the Office of the University Registrar should demonstrate leadership and coordination in this respect, the responsibility should be shared across the University including Faculty Offices, The School of Graduate Studies, the division of Continuing and Distance Studies, the Residence systems and other student service units. It is recognized that there is not a single solution to co-ordinated communication but rather the initiatives should be diverse, pervasive, and repetitive.
These variable times require new strategies to maintain continued success in pursuit of the University's mission. It is hoped that the "Principles and Priorities for Student Financial Assistance" provide a sound decision-making framework guiding Queen's student financial assistance allocation and distribution policy and procedural development into the next century, facilitating further enhancements to the quality of broader learning environment for students, faculty, and staff.
Terms of Reference:
The 1998 Task Force on Student Financial Assistance, as a sub-committee of the Senate Committee on Scholarships and Student Aid (SCSSA), will pursue the following tactics and report to the Senate on the current state and future prospects and goals for student financial assistance at Queen's:
Note: the following descriptions were valid at the time of publication.
In 1997/98 the distribution of Queen's funds for student aid for both undergraduate and graduate students were approximately 75% scholarships and prizes and 25% bursaries and need based awards. Recent increases are changing the ratio in favor of need based awards, especially for undergraduate students at Queen's. Ministry initiatives such as OSOTF and the tuition set aside provision have lead to an increase in need based awards for those students deemed to be residents of Ontario.
At Queen's, student financial assistance programs are funded through a combination of University operating funds and donated funds (endowed and annual gifts). University operating funds are allocated each year, and through long-standing practice, have increased annually in direct relation to annual increases in tuition. In 1996/97 that approach was further amended by the provincial requirement to "re-invest" 10% of any tuition increase into student assistance. For 1997/98, 1998/99 and 1999/00, a minimum of 30% of the tuition increase had to be reinvested in student aid and it is expected that a mandated commitment at that level will continue.
Donated funds may be endowed and the interest used for student financial assistance, or may be in the form of annual gifts. Some funds are restricted to students in a certain Faculty, School or Department with certain characteristics or demonstrating certain achievements and/or qualifications. If restricted funds are donated to meet the needs of individual students or groups of students (entering classes, for example), those sources are used first so that unrestricted funds may be distributed to needy students who are not targeted by designated terms. This discretion to strategically allocate all available funding maximizes the opportunities to ensure that funds are totally allocated and distributed as equitably as possible on the basis of consistent needs analysis.
For those students who are experiencing some difficulty with financing their post secondary education there is a wide range of opportunities/programs that exist at Queen's to assist them.
The following generally describes the internal financial assistance programs available to students. A 1998/99 Student Assistance Budget breakdown is also included outlining the funding distribution by type. Due to its different nature, a separate section is included below summarizing the current graduate funding situation.
A scholarship is a non-repayable award given primarily for academic excellence or accomplishment. Any other factors in the selection of a recipient are secondary to academic excellence. These other factors may include a certain field of study, certain extracurricular activities, or place of residence. These awards include both entrance and general scholarships and prizes. Typically students do not need to complete an application for these awards, they are generally considered for these awards once they have applied to Queen's or in the case of continuing students that are selected by their department or faculty. However there are a few awards that require an application to be completed.
A bursary is a non-repayable award given for the purpose of assisting registered students with the financial expenses normally incurred while pursuing an academic program. Financial need is the primary consideration in the selection of bursary recipients. Bursary funds are intended to assist primarily in emergency situations. They are also a final resource available when the student's own financial contribution to the cost of his or her education, parental assistance and government aid still leave the student with insufficient funds to complete the academic year.
An award is a gift in recognition of a combination of financial need, academic merit and perhaps other attributes such as involvement in the student government and/or community affairs
A fellowship is a large monetary award usually given in programs at the master's or doctoral level. Generally awarded for academic excellence, it is designed to provide major financial support for the recipient's academic program.
Queen's has established a number of loan funds for the assistance of both undergraduate and graduate students. Loans are made are the basis of financial need, academic merit, and general integrity.
Short term loans of 90 days or less may be granted to registered students who are temporarily in need and who can produce satisfactory evidence that they will have sufficient money to make repayment on or before the due date. A service charge of two per cent of the principal amount (minimum $5) is charged at the time the loan is obtained. No other interest or service charges accrue so long as the loan is not allowed to become overdue.
General loans may be available for registered students who require assistance for more than 90 days. Before financial assistance is given, the loan committee must be satisfied that the student has applied to all other eligible sources of aid. The interest rate on general loans is set on September 30 each year, and is the same as the bank rate the University is able to obtain for itself. The interest is compounded monthly. Students are advised of the interest rate in effect at the time application is made, and the subsequent annual rate(s) will apply to all outstanding loans. Repayment of general loans must normally be made by the 30 September that follows the date on which the loan was granted. Payment may be deferred if the student is returning to full-time studies at Queen's. The general maximum loan available is the cost of tuition, and no more than two loans may remain outstanding at any one time. As part of the application, students are required to complete a budget demonstrating their financial shortfall.
The Work Study program offers a number of on-campus, part-time employment opportunities for full-time students in financial need. Those who qualify can apply for a variety of Work Study positions on-campus, and can earn $8.00/hour, to a maximum of $2000 over the fall winter, and $1000 over the spring summer terms. Applications are available at the Student Awards Office in July for the fall-winter terms, and in March for the spring-summer session. Because of the popularity of this program, students are encouraged to apply early.
Services are available throughout the year for students to obtain budgeting advice, discuss financial concerns and obtain financial assistance options from a Financial Counsellor or Peer Advisor in the Student Awards Office.
Graduate funding comes from four major sources: external awards, internal awards, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships. Over the last 10 years, the distribution of funds has changed with internal awards increasing from 28.8 to 41.5 percent of total funding. The increase both reflects some compensation for loss of MRC scholarship funding and the return to graduate support of increased tuition monies arising from the abandonment of post-residency fee abatements.
The Graduate School is responsible for allocating just under $9 million in internal awards comprising Queen's Graduate Fellowships, Queen's Graduate Awards, and Tuition Bursaries. Students with the strongest academic records receive national and provincial scholarships (NSERC, SSHRC, OGGST); students with first-class records who do not win such scholarships are eligible for Queen's Graduate Fellowships. The role of Queen's Graduate Awards is two-fold: to provide a source of top-up funding to compete for the best students and a source for basic funding for students who do not win other awards. These monies are allocated to students on the recommendation of the department within a funding envelope for the department which is determined by eligible graduate enrolment and by the academic division in which the department lies. The Humanities receive more Queen's Graduate Award funding per student to compensate for lower amounts of external research funding available in departments in that division.
The driving force behind departmental allocation is the need to provide competitive funding packages to students. A "package" is the total amount offered to a student over the course of an academic year and can be made up of monies from different sources even for students who receive the same total amount. Departments are expected to be explicit about funding expectations over the entire period of study.
The competitive environment for a department is defined by departments in the same discipline both within Canada and, for some programs, in an international context. Other universities organize packages in different ways. Most other universities in Ontario, for example, have significantly higher TA rates and thus their TA component may be substantially larger. However, it is the overall size of the package that is critical. Unfortunately, the process is akin to a silent auction in which other bids are seldom known and you only know if you are successful or not.
Competition for the best students (those who win major external awards) is becoming fiercer. Top-ups are now required to attract scholarship winners in many disciplines. Currently, formal funding from the Graduate School is provided during the first two years of a Master's program and the first four years of a Doctoral program.
The funding available from Queen's supplements external student assistance available to students, as summarized here:
Each province in Canada offers financial assistance in the form of student loans on a government need assessment basis for full-time post-secondary study (full-time study is defined as a 60% or greater course load for government loan purposes). Government aid programs are the major source of funds for students who have limited financial resources, and are based on the assumption that it is primarily the responsibility of the student and his her parent(s) or spouse to provide funds for post-secondary education. Personal and living costs, actual tuition (except for de-regulated programs where up to a maximum of $2250/term, or $4500 fall-winter, is considered), student fees, books (excluding computer costs) and child care are considered costs in the need assessment. Expected contributions from parental or spousal income, student income, and student and spousal assets are built into the need assessment.
In Ontario (through OSAP) the dollar range of assistance available to a single student (according to government defined need) ranges from $0 to a maximum of $9350 for a fall winter term for a single student, $0 to $17000 for the same period for a married or sole support student. Students may apply for government loan assistance for both the fall-winter and the spring-summer terms. Appeal options to the standard need assessment and eligibility criterion are limited.
These loans remain interest-free while a student remains in full-time study. Six months upon completion or cessation of full-time studies repayment of the loans must begin.
Ontario Student Opportunity Grants (loan forgiveness) are available to OSAP recipients who have incurred a significant amount of OSAP debt, since 1993/94, and over the course of their degrees. For example, an individual who completed an honours degree over four years, and received maximum OSAP assistance at $9350 each academic year, would be required to repay $28,000 and would receive $9400 in Ontario Student Opportunity Grants (loan forgiveness).
Interest-relief programs exist to provide relief to eligible students who are unable (e.g. due to unemployment or low-income) to meet repayment obligations (up to 30 months).
Federal Part-time Canada Study Grants, and interest-bearing Part-time Student Loans are available on a need assessment basis for part-time post-secondary study (for government loan purposes, part-time is defined as less than a 60 % course load). Unlike loan assistance for full-time study, part-time assistance is provided to eligible students to cover direct educational costs only (tuition, fees, and books).
Numerous national and provincial scholarships are available, the major ones include: NSERC, SSHRC, OGS. There are also many awards and scholarships available from or administered by companies, organizations, foundations, etc.
While not as prevalent at the undergraduate level, there are many undergraduate awards and scholarships available from companies, organizations, foundations, etc..
Recent positive changes for students have been announced by both the Federal and Provincial governments, including:
|Bursary Funds for All Students||$3,080,095||$4,866,483|
|Other Targeted Programs||$79,144||$79,144|
|Sources of Funding|
|Student Assistance Levy||$409,000||$420,000|
|Student Assistance Endowment Value 1998/99:||$101,997.000|
|Approximate revenue 1998/99:||$5,100,000|
Expenditures of That:
Approximately 60% need based funding
Approximately 40% merit based funding (of which approx. 50% undergraduate and 50% graduate)
Note: The percentage of expenditures on need vs. merit based funding has changed significantly in recent years. For example, in 1995/96 approximately 15% of endowment revenue was expended on need based, and 85% on merit based funding. Whereas in 1998/99 the percentages of need to merit based expenditures were approximately 60% to 40% respectively.
Endowment for Student Assistance is $101,997,000
|842 accounts post-graduate & undergraduate – need based||$53,977,000|
|840 accounts undergraduate – need based||$ 7,244,000|
|840 accounts undergraduate – merit based||$ 20,490,000|
|840 accounts post-graduate – merit based||$ 8,456,000|
|841 accounts post-graduate – merit based||$ 11,833,000|
Approximate expenditure on student assistance is $5,100,000
The following highlights surveys reviewed by the Task Force for information pertaining to student financial assistance:
The Survey of University Applicants was conducted by Acumen Research, a market research company based in London, Ontario. Queen's first took part in this survey in 1998 and then again in 1999. The study represented a co-operative venture between private businesses, government, and individual universities.
The survey was designed to learn more about applicant perceptions, needs, and preferences concerning a wide range of factors and the influence of these factors on applicant choices. These factors included:
Tuition Levels and Funding Needs
Maclean's University Issue
Financial Planning and Saving
Computer and Technology Needs
Regional and Academic Comparisons
The 1999 UAS was sent to a sample of 10,000 (up from 5,500 in 1998) applicants who were randomly selected from the total population of applicants who had applied to Ontario Universities for admission in 1999. Queen's intends to participate in this study again in 2000. In 1998, Human Resources Development Canada performed more in depth analysis of the data.
Results from the 1998 survey and HRDC analysis, and the 1999 survey revealed the following
A confidential survey was designed in July of 1998 in an attempt to understand the reasons why potential students who were offered admission to Queen's had declined the offer. The basis of the survey included collecting data on the following areas:
The questionnaire consisted of fill in the blank questions and a series of 27 factors where students were asked to rate how significant the factors were in their decision not to attend Queen's. Students were also given a chance to indicate in their own words any reasons for why they may have decided to decline their offer of admission to Queen's.
The following are some brief highlights from this survey:
The Survey of First-Year University Students was co-ordinated by the Department of Housing and Student Life at the University of Manitoba and represents the fourth co-operative study of undergraduate education completed by The Canadian Undergraduate Survey Consortium. A total of 19 Canadian Universities participated in 1998.
The survey was designed to learn more about the undergraduate experience at Canadian universities and to assist in developing an information base about undergraduate experience at Canadian universities. This year's survey focused on first-year students and was designed to:
Students who were surveyed included only first-year undergraduate students in any first-level Bachelor's program who entered directly from high school or CEGEP and who had no prior university or college experience. Sampled students included both part-time and full-time students. Surveys were sent out to students in early January 1998. A total of 600 first year students at Queen's received a copy of the survey and a total of 386 surveys were returned for a response rate of 64.3%. The total number of surveys sent for all universities was 10,876 and 5548 were returned, a response rate of 51%.
The results of this survey indicated that 16% of Queen's students who were surveyed were scholarship recipients compared to 36% of students from all universities. Also, only 9% of Queen's first year students reported offers of financial assistance as being important in making a decision to come to Queen's, relative to 19% overall. The top two reasons cited by students for attending Queen's were the quality of the academic program (91%) and the university's reputation (89%).
This project was a joint effort between York, University of Toronto, Western, Ryerson and Queen's. Surveys were sent to 1600 undergraduate students at Queen's (400 in each year of study) in October of 1998. The survey was an attempt to better understand the financial challenges that students are currently facing. The study focused on the costs of post secondary education and the various ways in which students are attempting to meet these costs. Students were asked to answer questions pertaining to their expenses as a student and how they meet these expenses, their views on the cost implications of a university education, their views on debt, and their awareness of university financial programs and government financial programs
Results from the survey revealed the following:
In January of 1998 a survey was sent out to students to gain a better understanding of their reasons for deciding to leave Queen's before finishing their studies. Former students were asked to indicate their main reason for withdrawing from their studies and any other reasons they may have. They were also asked what they were currently doing, what students services they used before making their final decision to withdraw, whether or not they planned on returning to Queen's, and whether Queen's could have done anything to ensure the completion of their studies. These students were also asked if a decrease of 20% in tuition would have had any effect on their decision not to continue their studies.
Results indicated that the main reason that students withdrew was personal (46%) and the second most popular response indicated was financial (11%). Eighty-two percent of respondents indicated that Queen's could not of done anything to ensure the completion of their studies and 73% of respondents indicated that a decrease in tuition of 20% would not have had any effect on their decision to discontinue their studies.
This survey was first sent out to students who graduated or who withdrew from the School of Graduate Studies in the spring of 1996. The survey is ongoing, when students complete or leave their program they are given a copy of the survey by the School of Graduate Studies or by their department. Students are asked a series of questions that examine these areas:
To date a total of over 400 students have completed this survey and it is expected that results will be used to improve programs both at the department and Graduate school levels. Results based on this survey indicate that graduate students are leaving Queen's with an average debt level attributed to the Ph.D. program of $4,000 and that more than half of students leaving are graduating debt free.
When we look at distribution of debt levels that graduate students self reported on this survey, there are quite a few students who have total debts over $20,000, a reasonable number have over $25,000 and few have debt over $30,000. This is debt accumulated over both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Less than 10% of students reported having under $8,000 worth of debt. These debt levels could include not only government loans, but loans from parents or other family members, friends, banks, credit cards, etc.
This survey was completed by the Engineering Society early in 1999 and it asked students to express their views on the quality of education they receive and their student debt loads. Students were given the opportunity to complete the survey in class time and a 60% response rate was obtained. Survey results revealed the following:
Other research efforts that were reviewed by the committee included the following.
This report was completed in March of 1998 and examined the following issues:
This review involved a literature search, collecting data on graduate student funding, and interviewing selected graduate chairs at Queen's.
This was a report prepared by Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) on the 1995 follow-up of 1990 graduates. National Graduate Surveys and Follow-up Graduate Surveys are conducted by the HRDC and Statistics Canada to obtain information on the relationships between education, training, and labour market activities, the long-term labour market experiences of graduates, the employment, earnings and occupations of this key group and graduates' additional educational experiences and qualifications. In June of 1995, the 1995 Follow-up survey of 1990 Graduates was conducted. In 1992 when the initial survey was conducted, a total of 36,000 trade, vocational, college and university graduates were interviewed, and three years later 31,000 of these same respondents were re-interviewed. The results of this survey are compared to those obtained in the initial survey of 1990 graduates conducted in 1992.
Two graduate students in the department of Biology in the spring of 1998, Jeff W. Dawson and Darren Bos conducted this survey. The survey was completed to provide the Graduate Studies Committee of the Department of Biology with accurate figures regarding the costs of living and pursuing a graduate degree in biology while attending Queen's University. The survey gathered information on the following
This study was sponsored by the New Brunswick Department of Advanced Education and Labour, the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Culture, and the Prince Edward Island Department of Education and was completed by October 1997. The intent of the study was to assist the Maritime Province Higher Education Commission, students, governments, institutions, and other stakeholders in post-secondary education with a better understanding of the dynamics at play when choosing to pursue, or not to pursue, a post-secondary education, with a particular emphasis on the financial barriers to post-secondary education. This study involved:
To recommend to the Senate, University policy governing undergraduate and graduate fellowships, scholarships, medals, prizes, bursaries, loans and other forms of student aid;
to approve the establishment of fellowships, scholarships, medals and prizes and provide a report, at least annually, to Senate;
to award, either directly or by delegation of power to Faculties and Schools, fellowships, scholarships, medals and prizes, including entrance scholarships, and to report on these awards to the Senate; and,
to review annually the awards of bursaries, loans and other forms of financial aid to students.
1 Ex Officio Member
7 Elected Members
Terms Of Reference:
To study the records of scholarship candidates and make recommendations for the Alumni National Scholarships, the Provincial Scholarships, the Tricolour Scholarships, the Queen's Honour Matriculation Scholarships, the Anniversary Scholarships and Locality and Subject Awards.
Loans and Bursaries
Terms Of Reference:
To consider applications for long term loan assistance and bursary assistance. The decision of the Subcommittee on Loans and Bursaries to be final.
Dear Mr. Brodhead:
I am pleased to submit a letter of interest from Queen's University in response to the J. W. McConnell Foundation's granting program for strategic investment in Canadian higher education.
In an environment of significantly increasing tuition fees coupled with continuing underfunding by provincial governments, Queen's University is committed to a whole-scale reorganization and repositioning of its Financial Assistance and Recruiting Programs. Many of the changes we envision will have wide-scale implications for the Canadian system. I have included a background note which sets the context for this challenge, and a brief outline of the course of action we intend to pursue.
Queen's has an excellent track record of using "seed" money from private donors to bring about strategic change at the institutional level. For example, the MBA for Science & Technology program was developed with private seed capital and now just four years after its launch in 1995 is ranked as the number one program in Canada. It is financially supported, not through the transfer of public funds, but through private tuition fees and corporate donations. Through innovative financing arrangements, it is accessible to all qualified students from across Canada and around the world.
We are faced now with a more significant challenge – to ensure wide accessibility to all of our academic programs with shrinking public sector support. We believe that we have the experience, the commitment and energy to carry out this ambitious new program.
A Background Note - Queen's in the 21st Century
Just over a year ago, Queen's articulated its vision of being the quality leader in Canadian education, developing exceptional students and scholars for citizenship and leadership in a global society. One of the core elements in this vision is a commitment to attracting the best and brightest students from across Canada and around the world. As such, we are determined to offer truly "means blind" admission –the first university in Canada to implement a customized financial assistance program which ensures access for all students admitted to Queen's. The program is called the Queen's University Pledge of Accessibility.*
As tuition fees escalate across Canada, many young people seeking a university education will face insurmountable financial burdens and will select universities on the basis of proximity to home and cost, rather than program quality. Canadian universities must find new and innovative ways to ease this burden for the many students who are not eligible for government student loans, and for the growing number of students for whom government support is simply not enough to cover the cost of their education.
Universities in the United States have grappled with this issue for decades; many top American universities do have sophisticated systems in place to assess need, and then offer assistance to students who require funding. One of the questions we have asked at Queen's is could a similar system be implemented in the Canadian environment, where university endowments are substantially smaller and where there exists no arms-length agency to conduct objective and accurate need analysis. **
While some exceptional new national and provincial programs are being implemented which will increase the overall level of funding available for student assistance - such as the Canada Millennium Scholarship Fund and the Ontario Student Opportunity Trust Fund – much more needs to be done at the institutional level. At Queen's and elsewhere, little fundamental change has taken place in systems and structures which drive and support recruiting, admissions and financial assistance programs. The role of the registrarial function in Canada is in great flux as universities compete more aggressively for top students and as demand for student assistance soars. There is an urgent need to rethink how systems and structures can evolve to support this changing role.
"Means Blind Admission" is more than a marketing slogan. It is a true commitment to developing a program which ensures that highly qualified students from across this country – no matter what their financial situation - have the ability to come to Queen's and be afforded the same opportunities within the broader learning environment that are available to their peers.
*QuPAcc will be initially focussed on Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Currently, international students must demonstrate that they have sufficient financial resources to meet their needs to be approved for study in Canada.
**The Ontario Student Assistance Progam (and other similar provincial programs) does not currently provide a realistic or timely assessment of financial need. It doesn't, for example, take into account geographical factors for students living great distances from home; different housing arrangements; or the markedly different costs of various academic programs. In addition, first year university students don't find out what funding is available to them until late in the summer before their university registration.
To be the first university in Canada to offer truly means blind admission.
To establish a model program of customized financial assistance which
could be implemented at other universities across the country.