Province establishes $3M scholarship

A lberta university students entering their second year could now get a $1,000 break from the provincial government.

The Ministry of Learning announced the terms of its new$3 million scholarship fund on Tuesday. Created in the Feb. 24 provincial budget, the scholarship will be awarded to students with an average equivalent to 80 per cent in their first year of study in a program at least two years long.

"It will be $1,000 for–we estimate–3,000 students," said Alberta Learning Spokesperson Ed Greenberg. "In reviewing previous years and forecasts, that’s the number we came up with."
The 80 per cent average would translate to different GPA’s, depending on the institution.

"It would vary from institution to institution because there are different types of GPA’s the institutions use," said Greenberg. "It’s up to the awards offices. We’re working with the awards offices so students would know what their local GPA would be equal to."

The University of Calgary Student Awards and Financial Aid office says it is still negotiating what the GPA cut-off will be and does not have any details yet.

Student leaders, however, were unimpressed. U of C Students’ Union Vice-president Academic Heather Clitheroe was disappointed that the scholarship only acknowledges students finishing their first year.

"There are students in second, third and fourth year who are just as deserving," she said. "Need doesn’t just exist in your first year."

To qualify, students must also be an Alberta resident, and have taken at least 80 per cent of a full course load in the first year and at least 60 per cent of a full course load in their second year of the same program.

The scholarship will be named after 17-year-old Jason Lang, who was killed by a fellow classmate in Taber on April 28, 1999.

"The ministry is looking for a way to honour and remember the young man," said Greenberg. "The scholarship is one of those ways."

Clitheroe, however, questioned the pertinence of naming the scholarship after a high school student.

"I think it’s a little disappointing that the fund wasn’t named for a post-secondary student that had died," she said. "I think naming a scholarship like that would be more appropriate for a matriculation award. It was probably a political decision by the Alberta Government."

The Jason Lang scholarship is administered through the Alberta Heritage Scholarship Fund, which also administers the Rutherford scholarship. According to the Alberta government, institutions will automatically determine which students qualify.

The first set of awards will be confirmed by Oct. 15 and cheques will be mailed to students by Nov. 1.

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