On Campus

Barriers to PSE for First Nations youth

From a Regina Leader-Post story:

A new report on First Nations youth and student financial aid, commissioned by the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, shows why more financial assistance for aboriginal students represents only a very small part of the effort required to narrow the education gap. With the exception of band funding, which was often identified as insufficient or unavailable, the study shows that many First Nations youth do not have enough reliable information about different sources of financial support to purse higher education. Without this information, prospective students who do not end up receiving enough band funding are left without a “plan B.”

There are many reasons why First Nations students end up less connected to information and guidance networks than their non-First Nations peers. They have fewer friends and family members who have entered college or university before them. Many live on reserves, at a distance from colleges or universities. They are more likely to have already spent one or more years out of high school and so no longer have access to in-school counsellors. Many also simply assume that they do not qualify for available forms of financial aid and are more reluctant to ask questions of college or university staff.

In addition, First Nations students who become aware of financial assistance programs tend to view student loans as too risky. They are less confident about their ability to complete their programs and repay their loans. They are very concerned that student debt will adversely affect their ability to support their families financially after graduation (First Nations students are more likely than non-First Nations students to have dependent children while in post-secondary education). They are also less sure that the jobs and salaries available to them after graduation will be sufficient to enable them to repay their loans.

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