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GNWT asks for feedback on student financial assistance changes

RJ Simpson at a 2020 press conference. Sarah Sibley/Cabin Radio

The NWT government is asking to hear your thoughts on proposed changes to the territory’s student financial assistance program.

Proposals include increasing the funding available for tuition through the basic grant from $2,400 up to $2,655 per semester, while funding for books would increase from $550 to $700 per semester.

For Indigenous students, available funding would increase from $2,400 up to $3,320 per semester and funding for books would increase from $550 to $875 per semester.

Students would also receive the full allowance for books, even if their book costs don’t amount to the full allowance for which they’re eligible.



According to the territorial government, this full allowance allows access to “other education services and supports or the cost of program-specific materials.”

Increases are also on the table for both the supplementary grant (for northern Indigenous students) and remissible loan programs. Applicants to both would no longer be limited by the number of semesters that they can access the funding. Loan applicants would still need to remain within the $60,000 limit.

Eligibility for the loan would no longer be judged by whether the student was schooled in the Northwest Territories.

Suspension penalties would be revoked, but students would still be expected to repay any benefits received for which they weren’t eligible.



“The proposed changes to the student financial assistance program are intended to remove barriers and enhance benefits for our students,” education minister RJ Simpson was quoted as saying in a news release.

The territory says the changes are meant to align with recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’s final report and calls for justice, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, all of which sought increased access to post-secondary education for Indigenous students.

To submit your feedback, email comments by Wednesday, May 31. More details can be found on the GNWT’s website.