Selkirk College starts COVID-19 emergency fund for students

The college has set aside up to $30,000 in matching funds for donations

To address the financial challenges facing post-secondary students due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Selkirk College Foundation is appealing for help with those struggling the most.

The COVID-19 Student Relief Fund will provide immediate financial support to students who are facing serious financial challenges as they complete their terms in programs across the West Kootenay and Boundary. The Selkirk College Foundation has set aside up to $30,000 in matching funds for donations made to the student relief fund by community supporters.

“Nobody could have expected the situation we all find ourselves in at present and for so many of our students the outfall from this pandemic has hit them extremely hard,” says Selkirk College president Angus Graeme.

“We need to make sure all students make it through their current studies and open the doors to their future through the education they are receiving. The external stress the pandemic is causing both mentally and financially is a significant barrier, we want to provide learners as much support as possible.”

In mid-March, Selkirk College moved its programs away from in-person instruction to alternative delivery methods as British Columbia adheres to the physical distancing protocols set down by the provincial government. Though this pivot will help ensure learning outcome success, the pandemic has presented significant challenges in other areas of student life.

Many students are struggling to pay rent and cannot afford the basic necessities to get through the next couple of months. To make ends meet during the school term, students often rely on part-time jobs in the retail and hospitality sector to get them through. With those positions hardest hit by the impact of the pandemic, a vital revenue source has been lost to those pursing their educational goals.

The Financial Aid office at Selkirk College has experienced an increase in student requests over the past month. Though the college has some internal emergency funding available, it is not enough meet the demands currently facing the institution.

“While staying at home is the best action that people can take to stop the spread of COVID-19, we can take action by helping others and make a vital impact on a student’s life,” says Stephanie Gobin, manager of advancement and community relations at Selkirk College. “Together, we will get through this. Together, we can help each other.”

Last week, the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills & Training announced a one-time investment of $3.5 million in emergency financial assistance for students at all 25 public post-secondary institutions in British Columbia. Selkirk College students will have access to this fund from the province over the coming months. The Selkirk College Foundation’s COVID-19 Student Relief Fund is aimed at short-term relief.

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