Andrew Parker spent much of his childhood living in foster care. As an adult he’s taking advantage of the former youth in care tuition waiver. NIC Image

College support available for former youth in care

Waiver covers tuition up to $5,500 per year

When North Island College (NIC) student Andrew Parker heads back to the Campbell River campus for his fourth and final Level of Heavy Duty Apprenticeship training this January, he won’t be worrying about how to pay for it.

Parker, who lived in numerous foster homes before the age of 10, will receive a Former Youth in Care post-secondary tuition waiver that will pay for his education. Now working as a heavy duty mechanic in the forestry industry, he took advantage of the waiver for this Level 3 training and will do the same for Level 4.

“Having financial support through the Tuition Waiver program allowed me to take the program I wanted without having to worry about tuition,” said Parker. “It gave me the freedom to say, `These are the courses I want to take and this is what I want to do with my life,’ and then being able to do it.”

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The Former Youth in Care funding was launched in September 2017 by the province to improve access, services and educational outcomes for former youth in care. The waiver covers tuition up to $5,500 per year. Former youth in care can also receive Youth Futures Education funding, which covers books, supplies and living expenses while attending school.

In the 2018-2019 school year, 35 NIC students received the youth in care tuition waiver, but not all former youth in care are aware the program exists.

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“We’re really trying to get the word out about funding supports like the Tuition Waiver Program,” said Sarah Deagle, assistant registrar at NIC’s Campbell River campus. “We encourage students to speak to our financial advisors to see what financial supports are available that they may be able to access.”

Parker is looking forward to finishing his final level of apprenticeship training and getting his Red Seal. He’s grateful for the support he’s received, including the waiver program.

“A lot of youth in care don’t have role models that have an impact on their lives,” he said. “But if you surround yourself with good people – school counsellors, grandparents and friends – they’ll want the best for you and help you get what you want out of life. I would encourage any other former youth in care to take advantage of this support.”

For more information about financial support, including the Tuition Waiver Program, visit www.nic.bc.ca/finanical-support.

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