New award to protect senior students

May 15, 2008

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By Stuart Colcleugh

SFU has responded to concerns over its plan to end credit-course tuition waivers for students over age 60 by moving to create a new award for those who need financial assistance.

The university cancelled the seniors’ tuition waiver last month as one of several budget measures in response to unexpected funding reductions by B.C.’s advanced education ministry.

SFU President Michael Stevenson says eliminating the seniors’ waiver reflects a principle of equitable access for all students to all university programs.

"We believe that seniors would not expect to be subsidized by younger undergraduates whose tuition fees cover an increasing share of the cost of degree programs." Nevertheless, he says, "we also know that some seniors, like other undergraduates, will need assistance to cover tuition."

Stevenson says he has asked university advancement to raise funds for an endowment to provide financial assistance for seniors 65 years and older who take less than three credit courses and who have a "demonstrated need."

Seniors taking three or more credit courses in a semester will continue to be eligible for bursary assistance like any other regular SFU student.

"Unfortunately," says seniors program director Alan Aberbach, "raising the age from 60 to 65 affects about 50 per cent of those seniors enrolled in the program."

Stevenson says SFU has a proud tradition of support for life-long education, and seniors are an important part of that commitment. "SFU will continue to welcome seniors to credit courses and to the non-credit courses which involve a far greater number of seniors."

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