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New program increases access to Queen’s for local, first-generation students

The Promise Scholars program provides students with dedicated financial, academic, and career support.

Photo of convocation at Queen's
The Promise Scholars program is designed to break down financial barriers to a Queen's education

The university is launching a new program designed to increase access to Queen's for local, first-generation students.

The Promise Scholars program provides students with dedicated financial, academic, and career support, enabling them to complete a first-entry degree debt-free while gaining valuable work experience.

“Eliminating barriers to higher education is an imperative for our institution. Supporting students from our community so they can advance their knowledge and ambitions is integral to the mission of Queen’s. We know our graduates make a difference and education allows them to realize their dreams, contributing to not just Queen’s but the world beyond our walls,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. “Community engagement begins at home and I am excited about this program and its potential to help make a difference in the lives of young people and their families in the Kingston area.”

The program is designed to break down financial barriers that students from lower-income backgrounds face in accessing post-secondary education. Full funding for tuition, fees, books, and supplies, together with financial support for residence and a living allowance in years two, three and four, will ensure students can benefit from the full Queen’s undergraduate experience.

As it can be difficult for some first-generation students to navigate the challenges and opportunities that arise when attending university, the Promise Scholars program provides dedicated support to set students up for success. In addition to financial assistance, the Promise Scholars program will connect students with advisors for guidance on academics, financial planning, and career preparation. Students will also receive support from peer advisors and will be connected to the Queen’s alumni community and other professional networks.

Recognizing the importance of career experience, Promise Scholars will also have paid summer internships after years one, two, and three.

“We know that completing a university degree can be a transformative experience for students, but even with existing financial assistance programs, the cost to attend can be a barrier,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs. “We wanted to design a program to provide qualified students facing significant financial challenges with the opportunity to pursue their chosen degree, gain valuable work experience, and participate fully in university life.”

Photo of Ann Tierney announcing Promise Scholars program to a group of local guidance counselors
Vice-Provost and Dean, Student Affairs Ann Tierney announcing the Promise Scholars program to local guidance counselors

Prospective eligible students can request to be considered for the Promise Scholars program when they apply to first-entry undergraduate programs at Queen’s. In order to be eligible for consideration, applicants must receive admission to a Queen’s first-year undergraduate degree program, be a first-generation student from the local region, and have a family income of $50,000 or less. Additional eligibility criteria can be found on the Promise Scholars webpage.

The first cohort of Promise Scholars will join the Class of 2024 in September 2020.

Tierney officially announced the initiative on Sept. 17 to a gathering of local guidance counselors. After introducing the program to them, they had a chance to ask questions and provide feedback.

“I think the Promise Scholars initiative is a tremendous step in the right direction. Having spent the last number of years working with students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, I have become tremendously aware of the barriers they face every step of the way. I am sure our students will be submitting applications for Promise Scholars. We look forward to seeing this program flourish over the next few years,” says Brent Pickering, Principal of Alternative and Community Education with Limestone District School Board, who attended the event.

The university has dedicated funding to support five new Promise Scholars a year, a commitment of approximately $60,000 - $100,000 per student depending on the program of study.

Additional details will follow soon.