University launches Promise fund for low-income students

Five local students to receive free tuition starting next fall

Queen’s will launch scholarship to support low-income students next fall.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

Next fall, five low-income students will start their academic careers at Queen’s debt-free.

Starting in 2020, Queen’s will launch the Promise Scholars Program (PSP), a new scholarship and bursary program aimed at supporting students from the local region whose families make an income of less than $50,000 a year.

“The program provides the students with a really comprehensive package of not just financial support, but career development and other forms of support when they’re here,” Ann Tierney, vice-provost and dean of Student Affairs, said in an interview with The Journal. She added some of these supports will include peer and alumni mentoring.

The University will dedicate $60,000 to $100,000 per student for their first year depending on the program of study, and will provide the students with a paid summer internship after their first, second and third years.

Tierney said students will automatically be considered for PSP if they fit the criteria when applying for the bursary. There are currently five spots available in the program, and eligible students will be randomly selected.

Tierney said PSP is not a response to the provincial OSAP funding cuts, adding development of the program began more than two years ago in collaboration with Queen’s faculties and local educators.

Tierney said she sees PSP as a commitment to the local community, and a way to provide financial access for students who aren’t able to come to Queen’s. With the support of other colleagues, Tierney hopes that the program will grow as the University makes it a “fundraising priority.”

“Our goal is to grow over the next few years to 20 spots,” she said. “Hopefully, with expanded philanthropic support through fundraising, we will be able to do that.”

In an interview with The Journal, Brant Pickering, principal of alternative and community education with Limestone District School Board, said one of the challenges he experiences as a principal is encouraging students to apply for university, because many cannot afford it.

“Poverty is generational within Kingston and surrounding areas. It’s everywhere,” he said. “But certainly, there’s a high incidence of it within the Kingston area where education [is] the key to getting out of that.”

Pickering said local schools will ensure students are aware of this program during the university application process. He added, however, that while the program is offering a huge amount of money to five students, they won’t get the opportunity to access it if they don’t pay the initial $105 application fee.  

“I just want to commend Queen’s,” Pickering said. “It’s nice to see my alma mater actually do this kind of work. I would certainly hope this will lead to greater outcomes for many of our disadvantaged students.”

 

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