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Queen's University
 

Student Financial Assistance

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.


Table of Contents


Queen's University Mission

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:

  • The exceptional quality of undergraduate and graduate students and programs in the arts, sciences and professions;
  • The intellectual power and value of research and scholarship by faculty members and students;
  • The exemplary service of the University and that of its graduates to the community, the nation, and the community of nations.

Executive Summary:

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.

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Recommendations:

Allocation and Distribution:

  • It is recommended that student financial assistance always be directed in support of the University's established principles, priorities and goals and to facilitate the achievement of competitive admission and retention objectives at the undergraduate and post-graduate level. Successful pursuit of this principle may result in an apparent inequity among, for example, graduate and undergraduate students or students from other provinces or countries who may require more direct assistance from Queen's in order to attend and remain to complete their degrees. The distribution of available funding among various student groups and across student assistance programs must be fully transparent and reported annually.
  • It is recommended that attracting and retaining the top-ranked students be a priority for student financial assistance distribution. As resources allow, this should entail a needs-blind admission policy at the undergraduate level, and the invitation for students to complete a needs-assessment upon the offer of admission and a commitment to provide an assistance package that will enable each student to begin and complete a degree at Queen's irrespective of personal, geographic, or socio-economic circumstances. Graduate funding requires flexibility to maintain competitiveness for top quality students and also to provide a base level of funding support for students. The School of Graduate Studies must be vigilant in a continual review process to ensure that funding is targeted appropriately to achieve these objectives.

Basic Needs:

  • It is recognized that students and their families will continue to bear the greatest responsibility for funding individual basic educational and personal choice costs, and that in accordance with prevailing government policy, the source of financing may include substantive borrowing. It is anticipated that government assistance, external awards and scholarships, and University financial aid funds will continue to be able to subsidize the amount required but will not replace student and family resources as the primary source of financing. The University should undertake to counsel students about borrowing and debt management and assist students in planning to consolidate and repay total debt (borrowed sums plus interest and administrative fees) upon graduation.
  • Providing financial assistance to students who have accumulated significant debt due to basic educational costs should be a priority over providing assistance: i) to students who have borrowed to finance personal expenditures beyond those identified as basic needs; ii) to students who have apparently not exhausted all avenues for external support, and iii) to those who have not borrowed at all. In general, Queen's student aid funding should be used to help students in the greatest financial difficulty with the fewest options to secure funding on their own. The Task Force explicitly recognizes the necessity for judgement and discretion on behalf of the Student Awards Office in applying Queen's policies.
  • It is recommended that summaries of basic education costs, which are a reflection of the total costs of pursuing degree studies at Queen's, be incorporated into individual needs-assessments. These will include the associated program costs for tuition and ancillary fees, books and supplies including computer expenses, accommodation and food, and personal expenses, which may include childcare. Students and prospective students must be informed of those expenses that the University may help to subsidize with the understanding that students may choose to expend greater sums of money to provide for individual priorities within their own means.

SCSSA

  • It is recommended that the Senate Committee on Scholarship and Student Aid (SCSSA) review their terms of reference with a view to regularly reviewing budgeted allocation and actual distribution of total student assistance funding (at graduate and undergraduate levels) and ensuring budget allocations are directed to policy priorities in order to continually achieve Queen's academic and enrolment objectives to the maximum potential. Administrative responsibilities, such as drafting and approving terms of reference for donated awards and other regular tasks, should be delegated to a small sub-committee consisting of a minimum of the University Registrar and Associate, and the Chair of the Senate Committee. The Senate should continue to have final approval for policies and guidelines for establishing scholarships, awards, and bursaries as recommended by the SCSSA.

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Merit Recognition:

  • It is recommended that in accordance with the University's mission, that is "to be recognized for the exceptional quality of undergraduate and graduate students in programs in the arts, sciences and professions", that a priority for student financial assistance be maintained for the recognition and reward of outstanding achievement, academic and extra-curricular. The Senate Committee on Scholarship and Student Aid (SCSSA) and all Faculties and Schools must practise vigilance in ensuring that merit awards reflect both a competitive environment, and an equitable stature in rewarding the diversity of achievement in both entrance and continuing awards, and across disciplines and programs. Further, it is recommended that they be empowered to vary the distribution and allocation of funds and recognition to ensure these goals.

Equality of Opportunity:

  • It is recommended that a priority for the distribution of student financial assistance be to provide need-based assistance to students at Queen's to enable them to participate in the "broader learning experience", including enabling them to reduce a reliance on part-time work that would preclude participation in extra-curricular activities such as athletics, student governance and community service, or to participate in an international learning experience such as an international exchange or a study term abroad at the International Study Centre.

Time to Completion:

  • It is recommended that a priority for student assistance be to provide support to enable students to complete their degrees in a timely manner. Students should be encouraged to graduate and mitigate the opportunity costs of not being available to begin careers and to avoid a cycle of accumulating educational debt and/or transferring to part-time status in order to work to provide funding. Needs-based assistance should be made available to help students avoid these actions.

Monitoring:

  • It is recommended that vigilance in the monitoring of students' perceptions, attitudes, and experiences toward financing their university education, and the impact of increased tuition costs, be continued through ongoing research initiatives under the direction and leadership of the Office of the University Registrar and reported to the SCSSA and individual Faculties and Schools.

Fundraising:

  • It is recommended that raising funds to increase the endowment for student financial assistance continue to be a priority in all annual and capital campaigns. The Office of Advancement should encourage unrestricted donations in support of the University's priorities for student financial assistance to be determined by the SCSSA, upon advice of the University Registrar and individual Faculties and Schools' Awards Committees. In cases where donors wish to support specific student groups or programs, Advancement should seek guidance from the SCSSA to appropriately steer gifts toward identified priorities.

Communication and Education:

  • It is recommended that the University pursue a principle of full disclosure and education with respect to student financial assistance policies, procedures, availability and distribution, enabling full transparency to the University community and facilitating informed discussion and debate. This would include [but not be limited to] broad dissemination to the community of annual budget information, education to students and prospective students about the costs of a Queen's education and opportunities to assist in the financing of those costs, and regular and assertive input to government and interested parties about the impact of government policies and procedures on accessibility to university overall and upon the nature and diversity of enrolment and student life at Queen's in particular.
  • In support of the principle of encouraging predictability and planning, as articulated in the University's Tuition Framework document, it is recommended that undergraduate and graduate students be provided with detailed information about the amount and nature of student financial assistance available to them, including options for renewability, at the point of their offer of admission.

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Introduction:

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.

 

Setting the Context:

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:

  1. To review the policies and practices governing the allocation and distribution of all Queen's student financial assistance.
  2. To establish a set of principles to guide the establishment of financial assistance policies and practices for the future.
  3. To review the impact on students and prospective students of increasing tuition and the associated costs of pursuing a degree at Queen's.
  4. To research the feasibility of adopting a policy of means-blind admission.
  5. 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.

A more comprehensive description of the Terms of Reference is included in Appendix One.

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Discussion, Observations, Recommendations :

Term of Reference #1:

"To review the policies and practices governing the allocation and distribution of all Queen's student financial assistance."

Discussion and Observations:

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.

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Recommendations:

Allocation and Distribution:
  • It is recommended that student financial assistance always be directed in support of the University's established principles, priorities and goals and to facilitate the achievement of competitive admission and retention objectives at the undergraduate and post-graduate level. Successful pursuit of this principle may result in an apparent inequity among, for example, graduate and undergraduate students or students from other provinces or countries who may require more direct assistance from Queen's in order to attend and remain to complete their degrees. The distribution of available funding among various student groups and across student assistance programs must be fully transparent and reported annually.
  • It is recommended that attracting and retaining the top-ranked students be a priority for student financial assistance distribution. As resources allow, this should entail a needs-blind admission policy at the undergraduate level, and the invitation for students to complete a needs-assessment upon the offer of admission and a commitment to provide an assistance package that will enable each student to begin and complete a degree at Queen's irrespective of personal, geographic, or socio-economic circumstances. Graduate funding requires flexibility to maintain competitiveness for top quality students and also to provide a base level of funding support for students. The School of Graduate Studies must be vigilant in a continual review process to ensure that funding is targeted appropriately to achieve these objectives.
Basic Needs:
  • It is recognized that students and their families will continue to bear the greatest responsibility for funding individual basic educational and personal choice costs, and that in accordance with prevailing government policy, the source of financing may include substantive borrowing. It is anticipated that government assistance, external awards and scholarships, and University financial aid funds will continue to be able to subsidize the amount required but will not replace student and family resources as the primary source of financing. The University should undertake to counsel students about borrowing and debt management and assist students in planning to consolidate and repay total debt (borrowed sums plus interest and administrative fees) upon graduation.
  • Providing financial assistance to students who have accumulated significant debt due to basic educational costs should be a priority over providing assistance: i) to students who have borrowed to finance personal expenditures beyond those identified as basic needs; ii) to students who have apparently not exhausted all avenues for external support, and iii) to those who have not borrowed at all. In general, Queen's student aid funding should be used to help students in the greatest financial difficulty with the fewest options to secure funding on their own. The Task Force explicitly recognizes the necessity for judgement and discretion on behalf of the Student Awards Office in applying Queen's policies.
SCSSA
  • It is recommended that the Senate Committee on Scholarship and Student Aid (SCSSA) review their terms of reference with a view to regularly reviewing budgeted allocation and actual distribution of total student assistance funding (at graduate and undergraduate levels) and ensuring budget allocations are directed to policy priorities in order to continually achieve Queen's academic and enrolment objectives to the maximum potential. Administrative responsibilities, such as drafting and approving terms of reference for donated awards and other regular tasks, should be delegated to a small sub-committee consisting of a minimum of the University Registrar and Associate, and the Chair of the Senate Committee. The Senate should continue to have final approval for policies and guidelines for establishing scholarships, awards, and bursaries as recommended by the SCSSA.

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Term of Reference #2:

To establish a set of principles to guide the establishment of financial assistance policies and practices for the future.

Discussion and Observations:

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.

Recommendations:

Merit Recognition:
  • It is recommended that in accordance with the University's mission, that is "to be recognized for the exceptional quality of undergraduate and graduate students in programs in the arts, sciences and professions", that a priority for student financial assistance be maintained for the recognition and reward of outstanding achievement, academic and extra-curricular. The Senate Committee on Scholarship and Student Aid (SCSSA) and all Faculties and Schools must practise vigilance in ensuring that merit awards reflect both a competitive environment, and an equitable stature in rewarding the diversity of achievement in both entrance and continuing awards, and across disciplines and programs. Further, it is recommended that they be empowered to vary the distribution and allocation of funds and recognition to ensure these goals.

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Equality of Opportunity:
  • It is recommended that a priority for the distribution of student financial assistance be to provide need-based assistance to students at Queen's to enable them to participate in the "broader learning experience", including enabling them to reduce a reliance on part-time work that would preclude participation in extra-curricular activities such as athletics, student governance and community service, or to participate in an international learning experience such as an international exchange or a study term abroad at the International Study Centre.
Time to Completion:
  • It is recommended that a priority for student assistance be to provide support to enable students to complete their degrees in a timely manner. Students should be encouraged to graduate and mitigate the opportunity costs of not being available to begin careers and to avoid a cycle of accumulating educational debt and/or transferring to part-time status in order to work to provide funding. Needs-based assistance should be made available to help students avoid these actions.

Term of Reference #3:

To review the impact on students and prospective students of increasing tuition and the associated costs of pursuing a degree at Queen's.

Discussion and Observations:

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.

Recommendations:

Monitoring:
  • It is recommended that vigilance in the monitoring of students' perceptions, attitudes, and experiences toward financing their university education, and the impact of increased tuition costs, be continued through ongoing research initiatives under the direction and leadership of the Office of the University Registrar and reported to the SCSSA and individual Faculties and Schools.

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Term of Reference #4:

To research the feasibility of adopting a policy of needs-blind admission.

Discussion and Observations:

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).

Recommendations:

Basic Needs:
  • It is recommended that summaries of basic education costs, which are a reflection of the total costs of pursuing degree studies at Queen's, be incorporated into individual needs-assessments. These will include the associated program costs for tuition and ancillary fees, books and supplies including computer expenses, accommodation and food, and personal expenses, which may include child care. Students and prospective students must be informed of those expenses that the University may help to subsidize with the understanding that students may choose to expend greater sums of money to provide for individual priorities within their own means.
Fundraising:
  • It is recommended that raising funds to increase the endowment for student financial assistance continue to be a priority in all annual and capital campaigns. The Office of Advancement should encourage unrestricted donations in support of the University's priorities for student financial assistance to be determined by the SCSSA, upon advice of the University Registrar and individual Faculties and Schools' Awards Committees. In cases where donors wish to support specific student groups or programs, Advancement should seek guidance from the SCSSA to appropriately steer gifts toward identified priorities.

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Term of Reference #5:

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.

Discussion and Observations:

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.

Recommendations:

Communication and Education:
  • It is recommended that the University pursue a principle of full disclosure and education with respect to student financial assistance policies, procedures, availability and distribution, enabling full transparency to the University community and facilitating informed discussion and debate. This would include [but not be limited to] broad dissemination to the community of annual budget information, education to students and prospective students about the costs of a Queen's education and opportunities to assist in the financing of those costs, and regular and assertive input to government and interested parties about the impact of government policies and procedures on accessibility to university overall and upon the nature and diversity of enrolment and student life at Queen's in particular.
  • In support of the principle of encouraging predictability and planning, as articulated in the University's Tuition Framework document, it is recommended that undergraduate and graduate students be provided with detailed information about the amount and nature of student financial assistance available to them, including options for renewability, at the point of their offer of admission.

 

Concluding Remarks:

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.

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APPENDIX ONE

1998 TASK FORCE ON STUDENT FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE


Terms of Reference

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:

  1. Review current policies and practices governing the allocation and distribution of all student financial assistance.
    • Including a summary of all available internal and external options (e.g., Queen's operating and endowment, government assistance, other) and the balance between restricted or directed awards or programs, and flexible resources.
    • Attention should be given to the types of assistance programs and the relative availability and distribution of merit-based awards versus awards that require an element of need, as well as to the types of students eligible for or needing assistance.
    • Areas should be identified that represent weaknesses or shortcomings to the successful pursuit of the University's mission within defined principles and priorities for excellence, equity and diversity.
    • The results of this review should inform, for example, recommendations for allocations from the operating budget between graduate and undergraduate students, merit-based and need-based funding, entrance awards and in-year bursaries and awards, etc.
  2. Establish a set of principles to govern financial assistance policies and practices for the future.
    • Including the allocation of internal funding and unrestricted donations (endowed and annual) among various student financial aid programs, merit and/or need-based, in support of all students (e.g., undergraduate, post-graduate and doctoral, full-time and part-time, domestic and international, across all years, programs, disciplines, faculties and schools).
    • The principles should address issues of recruitment, admission and retention and should in general support overall enrolment and academic goals, especially with respect to our leadership in academic reputation and the overall quality of our students.
  3. Review the impact on students and prospective students of increasing tuition and the associated costs of pursuing a degree at Queen's.
    • Include the specific relationship to student financial assistance policies and practises; the review should attempt to understand the perceptions and effects of differentiated tuition, across programs and universities, on student attitudes, needs and behaviours.
    • Raise awareness of the increasing financial burden for students and examine ways that the university community can assist in alleviating that burden.
  4. Research the feasibility of adopting a policy of means-blind admission.
    • Look at its feasibility for the University or for selected degree-programs and determine if such a progressive goal is achievable as a long-term objective.
    • This review should pay particular attention to the contributions that the University should make to subsidize or augment support available from the federal and provincial governments, as well as from students and their families, in recognition that university education provides benefits to individuals and to Canadian society. An attempt should be made to set guidelines to determine and minimize acceptable levels of student debt to help guide University allocations.
  5. Recommend communication strategies to educate and inform the University community (students, staff, faculty, prospective students and alumni) of costs, and responsibilities and opportunities for financial assistance in pursing a degree at Queen's.
    • Including tax benefits, available to Queen's current and future students and their families.
    • This should include issues of print and electronic communication as well as financial planning and counselling activities that the University should pursue.
    • Information and communication strategies should also be targeted to current and future benefactors of Queen's, to illustrate how student financial assistance is successful in helping students, and to demonstrate the need for donations to be as broadly directed as possible to maximize the penetration and equity of distribution of available funds.

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APPENDIX TWO

Summary of Financial Assistance Programs Available to Queen's Students

Note: the following descriptions were valid at the time of publication.

1. Internal Funding Options:

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.

  • Scholarships and Prizes (Undergraduate)

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.

  • Bursaries

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.

  • Awards

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

  • Fellowship

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.

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  • Queen's Loans

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.

  • Work Study Program

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.

  • Financial Counselling

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.

2. Graduate Funding Situation:

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:

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3. External Student Assistance Programs

  • Provincial and Federal Student Financial Assistance

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).

  • Graduate External Awards and Scholarships:

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.

  • Undergraduate External Awards and Scholarships:

While not as prevalent at the undergraduate level, there are many undergraduate awards and scholarships available from companies, organizations, foundations, etc..

  • Other

Recent positive changes for students have been announced by both the Federal and Provincial governments, including:

  • in certain circumstances, extended interest-relief beyond the 30 month lifetime threshold;
  • the availability of partial interest-relief for individuals further up the income scale;
  • revisions to tax legislation that both encourage the growth of personal savings for the purpose of higher education, and provide students with increased tax benefits upon graduation as they embark on new careers and they must consolidate and begin repaying their loans;
  • the recent education deductions that have been extended to part-time students;
  • the promise of additional direct assistance with the launch of the Millennium Fund in 2000 and,
  • the most recent "Canada-Ontario Agreement on the Harmonization of Federal and Provincial Student Loans Programs", to be implemented for the 2000-2001 academic year and creating a "one-student-one-loan" Canada-Ontario harmonized product.

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Queen's University Financial Assistance Picture 98/99 and 99/00

Operating Budget

Funding 1998/1999 1999/2000
Undergraduate Funding
Scholarships $1,618,000 $1,846,200
SWEP $510,261 $675,000
Graduate Funding $8,689,000 $8,804,000
Bursary Funds for All Students $3,080,095 $4,866,483
Administration Costs $184,500 $243,759
Other Targeted Programs $79,144 $79,144
TOTAL OPERATING $14,161,000 $16,514,586
Sources of Funding
McLaughlin Endowment $760,000 $775,000
General Endowments $236,000 $239,586
Student Assistance Levy $409,000 $420,000
Operating Budget $12,756,000 $15,080,000

Endowments and Annual Gifts

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 approximately 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.

FROM 1998/99 UNIVERSITY REPORT ON ANNUAL BUDGET

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
Sub-Total $ 61,221,000
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
Sub-Total $ 40,779,000
TOTAL $102,000,000

Approximate expenditure on student assistance is $5,100,000

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APPENDIX THREE

Survey Highlights

The following highlights surveys reviewed by the Task Force for information pertaining to student financial assistance:

The University Applicant Survey

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:

  • Academic Reputation

  • Tuition Levels and Funding Needs

  • Maclean's University Issue

  • Financial Planning and Saving

  • Computer and Technology Needs

  • Internet Use

  • 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

  • (1999) There were a total of 8 financial factors that applicants were asked to indicate what influence they had had on their selection of universities; tuition costs, size of scholarships, advance notice of financial assistance, entrance bursaries, save costs if live at home, guaranteed scholarships, on campus jobs and availability of high quality jobs. The most influential financial factor was graduates get high quality jobs, while the least influential was save costs by living at home.
  • 76% of all applicants indicated that they had at least done some financial planning with their parents. The percentages increased as parental incomes increased.
  • Less than half of applicants (42.7%) had begun saving before their Grade 12 or OAC year.
  • 78% of applicants were at least somewhat concerned with their ability to pay for university.
  • 51% of applicants indicated that their parents had set up some sort of savings program for them.
  • Students estimated their average debt at graduation to be $14,483.

The Decline Survey

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:

  • What applicants were planning on doing in the fall of 1998, and, if they were planning on attending a post secondary institution which one was it, and what program were they enrolling in.
  • Whether or not the institution they were going to offered them any financial assistance and if so what amount.
  • Applicant reasons for deciding not to attend Queen's

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:

  • 56% of potential students indicated that Queen's hadn't offered them adequate finances and that this had played at least a somewhat significant role in their decision not to attend Queen's University
  • 47% of respondents indicated that they had received a larger scholarship from another university and this had been a factor in their decision
  • 44% of student indicated that financial assistance played a role in their decision
  • 40% of students indicated that the fact that total fees were too expensive to attend Queen's played a role in their decision not to attend, and 31% felt that tuition fees were too expensive.

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The First Year 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:

  • Collect demographic information about new students
  • Investigate reasons why students decided to attend university
  • Examine why students selected their present university
  • Look at student reactions to orientation experiences
  • Examine student transition to university
  • Collect student feedback about perceptions of the university
  • Investigate student reactions to their first registration for university courses.

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%).

The Cost of University for Ontario Students

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:

  • The majority of students (63%) believe that students should have the responsibility for paying for their education, 41% reported difficulty in meeting the costs of education.
  • Queen's students reported the highest percentage of students believing that university is worth the costs (69% vs low of 47%) and reported they had the least difficulty meeting the costs of education.
  • Survey results support that students are not adequately prepared before beginning university about the total costs of their education, or how they will cover those costs; in general, savings toward education are low (or non-existent) prior to beginning university (pre-university savings appear to be somewhat a function of parental income level with higher incomes saving and planning earlier).
  • Queen's has highest % of out- of- province students and 2nd highest % out of country
  • Queen's has lowest % of students (3% vs 23% high) mentioning affordability as an influence of choice of university to attend
  • Queen's parents - highest parental income and educational background
  • Queen's students - lowest % who had jobs last year (1997-98); lowest % who reduced course loads last year
  • Queen's students - lowest percentage on OSAP (24% vs 37%avg)
  • Loans (survey didn't ask if repayable) from parents the single largest source of funds for students – Queen's students report the highest % having parental loans/support (47%)
  • Queen's students report the lowest credit card debt (19% vs 35% high)
  • Sources of funding in order (1) parents, (2) OSAP, (3) credit card debt
  • Queen's students (both OSAP and non-OSAP recipients) seem to be more aware of costs and budgeting.
  • Queen's students have the lowest % who report currently working and work fewer than 10 hrs/wk (lowest); however, report the highest % believing work is essential to continuing their studies and no variation reported among universities for hardship that would be incurred without work. Queen's reports the lowest % of students whose work earnings contribute to the family income and the highest % that work for other than financial reasons. Queen's values work more for its contribution to discretionary spending and reports the lowest % of students who believe that working will have a negative impact on their grades.
  • Queen's students report saving the most from summer earnings and the highest savings from other sources and RESPs. (likely because their earnings are not required to supplement family income).
  • Queen's students receive the highest per capita scholarship and bursary funding (results support that bursaries are awarded on need basis and scholarships awarded to recognize merit).
  • Queen's students show highest % with bank loans.
  • Queen's students show lowest % with cars, cell phones and pagers and highest % with computers and investments
  • Total educational costs across five universities are similar, but composition of those costs vary, with Queen's students spending patterns reflecting the residential nature of the university (e.g., less on transportation, eating out, more on heat and hydro), possibly reflecting services available (e.g., less on health related costs) and other factors (less on clothing and "other" expenses).
  • In terms of Financial Aid Services, Queen's students reported a far greater awareness of all services and funding available from the student aid office (Student Awards), including emergency loans, bursary and scholarship funds, financial budgeting and support, as well as the highest awareness of part-time jobs, both on and off-campus. Only one other university's students reported a higher level of awareness of the Work-Study program at their university.

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Queen's Attrition Survey

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.

Graduate Student Exit Survey

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:

  • Their progress through the program; questions regarding their research supervisor, and if they were a Ph.D. student, questions on the comprehensive/qualifying exam are included
  • Their research experience in completing their program
  • Financial support and debt levels
  • Teaching assistantships,
  • Library resources, and
  • Their overall experience while at Queen's

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.

EngSoc Survey on Student Debt and the Quality of Education

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:

  • The average student debt load for engineering students is increasing
  • Students seemed to be much more interested in the quality of teaching, rather than the size of their classes
  • Students ranked teaching ability, up-to-date labs, and innovative material as the most important factors in the quality of education they receive

Other research efforts that were reviewed by the committee included the following.

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A.J. Taylor's Report on Supporting Graduate Studies at Queen's

This report was completed in March of 1998 and examined the following issues:

  • Is the financial support Queen's offers graduate students appropriate?
  • Should some funds be used in other ways to enhance graduate education at Queen's?
  • Is Queen's doing all it can to attract the highest quality of graduate students?

This review involved a literature search, collecting data on graduate student funding, and interviewing selected graduate chairs at Queen's.

The Class of '90 Revisited

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.

The 1998 Biology Graduate Student Cost Survey

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

  • The diversity of graduate students in the department
  • Expenses of graduate students
  • Financial background and debt
  • Miscellaneous and unexpected expenses

Accessibility to Post-Secondary Education in the Maritimes

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:

  • Analyzing existing data from a variety of sources already collected by the Commission and provincial governments
  • Conducting 19 focus groups in ten locations across the three provinces with graduating grade 12 students, first year post-secondary students (both community college and university), students with high debt levels still enrolled in post secondary institutions, and students who had left their university of college without completing their program; and
  • A telephone survey of the graduating grade 12 student population of the Maritimes and their parents.

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APPENDIX FOUR

Senate Committee on Scholarships and Student Aid

TERMS OF REFERENCE

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.

Composition:

1 Ex Officio Member

  • Principal or delegate

7 Elected Members

  • 3 faculty
  • 3 students (including at least one undergraduate student and at least one graduate student)
  • 1 staff

Two Subcommittees:

  1. Entrance Scholarships

    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.

  2. 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.

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APPENDIX FIVE

McConnell Foundation Submission

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.

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*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 Program (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.

The Challenge

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.

How We Get There

  • Develop an objective and accurate Needs Assessment Process which would generate a customized financial profile for students seeking financial support. Carried out electronically with web access from anywhere in the world.
  • Commit university resources to an expansion, over five years, of the Student Assistance Endowment Fund at Queen's from its current level of $100 million to $200 million. This will be a top priority of the new Campaign for Queen's.
  • Restructure Recruitment/Admissions process to enhance our ability to identify, attract and retain the best and brightest students from across the country and around the world.
  • Develop a full package of financial/employment assistance for students who need it most. Options to be explored include a private income-contingent loan plan, an expanded work-study program, and enhanced summer employment opportunities. This database of resources would then be matched to needs assessment profiles.
  • Engage external partners (alumni and companies) in a program to provide financial support, and support-in-kind for some of the employment initiatives.
  • Implement an end-to-end coordinated program of support for students, which would begin at the admissions/recruiting stage and continue until they graduate from Queen's.
  • After the development stage, commit university resources (facilities, computer support, staff) to the ongoing operations of the QuPAcc program.

Program Outcomes

  • Increased ability to attract and retain outstanding students from across the country.
  • Enhanced leadership opportunities and career experience for students through work/study programs and summer employment programs.
  • Development of a prototype program for financial assistance and needs assessment which can be used at other universities in Canada.
  • Development of a model private loan program (similar to the income contingent loan plan for the Queen's MBA for Science & Technology) which can be implemented in other selective university programs.

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Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000