By Cristina Paolozzi, April 29 2021—
In his last week as Students’ Union (SU) President, Frank Finley has introduced the COVID Student Relief Fund designed to support students who have been financially burdened by the pandemic.
In a post made on Reddit, Finley explains that the COVID Student Relief Fund will be awarded to students based on financial need, and that anywhere between $300–$1,500 will be awarded from a pool of $150,000.
Finley spoke with the Gauntlet about this bursary and the effect he hopes it will have on students.
“The pandemic has had devastating effects on students when it comes to employment, when it comes to family supports and when it comes to being able to afford their education,” said Finley. “This fund is for anybody who feels they are struggling economically as a result of the pandemic and of the fallout.”
Through the Quality Money program, Finally was able to work together with staff at the SU as well as with members of the university community to create a fund for students in need of financial aid.
Although there are other bursaries and scholarships offered by the university and the government that also helps students experiencing financial strain, Finley remarked that this bursary is different, mainly for its focus on eliminating barriers to access.
“There are other financial relief opportunities for students from the university and for that matter from the province or from the feds,” said Finley. “However, a lot of these have barriers to access.”
Finley also noted that this bursary is strictly needs-based.
“You do not have to prove you’ve done anything in particular — you just have to show that you’re a student at the University of Calgary and that you’re in need,” he said. “That is perhaps what sets us apart from a lot of other bursaries. In this instance, in particular, we wanted there to be the least amount of barriers to be able to access this fund.”
Finley recognized the overwhelming burden this pandemic has placed on students, stating that without some kind of economic relief, students could choose to walk away from post-secondary education for fear of no longer being able to afford it.
“Class and lack of wealth is a huge barrier for students trying to access post-secondary, and there are many students at the University of Calgary who are here right now, but concerned that they will not be able to continue because they do not have the financial resources available.”
In terms of how long students may access these funds, Finley said that the bursary will exist as long as there are still funds available.
“There is of course the possibility that this money will be used rather quickly,” Finley added. “We are still in the process of offering all the terms of reference for the fund, so there is the possibility for example of giving out portions of money over a particular time period. For example, saying that we would give out approximately $50,000 every four months or something to that end. But those decisions have not yet been made.”
The COVID Student Relief Fund will be available later this spring, and more information about accessing this bursary will be available in the coming months.