The Student Caucus is encouraged to report that, while only one of four financial aid recommendations from the Student Budget Consultation Report 2017/18 will be addressed this year, foundations for long-term improvements are being laid.
Students identified the Student Awards and Financial Support department as a priority for improvement. Key issues include increasing awareness of what financial aid is offered, improving the service experience, and integrating Student Awards and Financial Support with other departments that students access. More broadly, TRU must ensure that its financial aid offerings match students’ needs so nobody is left out or left behind.
“Students have been clear that, in the modern university, financial aid needs to be at the core of student services not the margin,” said Brian Chiduuro, President and Student Caucus Chair, “TRU has a lot of work to do to catch up to the increasingly tough realities that students face.”
Responding to the calls for improved awareness, service, and integration, Manager of Student Awards and Financial Support, Gordon Down, stated that he “recognized this as a growing need for several years… but those goals were never high enough to be actioned due to volume increases and resource constraints.” In fact, Down reports that in his department, “staffing resources are slightly smaller than they were 10 years ago, while the volume of award and loans [they] are processing have increased significantly.”
As a result, Down and University Registrar, Michael Bluhm, have submitted a funding request for a new Awards Coordinator position. They believe the position will provide the time and resources to address awareness, service, and integration issues; unfortunately, no concrete plans have been prepared so far.
“To fulfil its growing role, it is critical that Student Awards and Financial Support is properly staffed and funded,” Chiduuro continued, “We are eager to see plans to use those resources once in place.”
Meanwhile, progress is being made to better understand what aid is current available and how well it reflects students’ needs. Down reports there is a “project underway to break out and catalogue the individual criteria in each of the more than 500 awards.” Further, the Office of Advancement has agreed to partner with the Students’ Union to undertake a study of financial need amongst potential students in the region that TRU serves. This need could be compared to current aid to identify gaps and mismatches and facilitate better management and fundraising.
“These first steps are critical,” Chiduuro concluded, “and there is no time to spare in building this fundamental student support.”
To stay up-to-date on all of TRU’s responses to your priorities, check out the Student Budget Consultation webpage!
For more information contact:
University Governance Coordinator