Laurentian University waiving tuition for crown wards
It won't be long now until post-secondary students will be back in class.
And while many struggle with the cost of tuition, at Sudbury's Laurentian University, a special tuition exemption will allow some people who grew up in foster care to go to school at no cost.
A tuition exemption will be in place for the first time since 2012 for youth who lived in extended care of the Children's Aid Society, also known as crown wards.
Michelle Brunette is the director of student engagement at the university.
"People who have been at least one year in care in their life. There's no age restriction, so they are able to apply for the tuition waver at any point. So, sometimes after students move on after the care system, they're not ready at the age of 18 to be thinking about university, to be thinking about post-secondary, so a program like this that has no age restriction has a lot of benefits for students," said Brunette.
Jane Kovarikova is a Laurentian graduate that championed this initiative, which was taken from a similar program offered in British Columbia. She says through her own research, she was able to find that simply going to school makes the world of difference.
"I found that youth life outcomes after care tend to be pretty stressful. Like, they include criminal justice system involvement, early pregnancy, homelessness, [and] low academic achievement. So, we're not really setting our kids up to succeed after being raised by the government, and the one evidence-based pathway that corrects this trajectory is post-secondary school," said Kovarikova.
Not only does she know the importance from her research, but also from her own experience.
"I grew up in foster care as well. I left when I was 16-years-old. I dropped out of high school, like so many foster children do, approximately 60% in Ontario," said Kovarikova.
This funding will support the equivalent of ten full-time students. Officials with the university say they believe this is the only exemption of its kind offered in Ontario; however, they are working closely with other post-secondary schools to allow more students to access the program.