By Eli O’Donnell

NAITSA has set up new resources for students who are struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program, titled the Student Relief Fund, aims to help any students who don’t qualify for government funding.

“A lot of our students and our international students were falling through the cracks because if they haven’t worked in the past they weren’t eligible for [the Canada Emergency Response Benefit], so we just wanted to create some sort of fund that was meant for students,” said Alexis Sieben, the current VP Internal and Acting President for NAITSA.

The fund is already available and students can begin the application process on the NAIT website by filling out a “Student Information Form” and sending it to financialaid@nait.ca. Students will then be contacted by a NAIT Financial Advisor to set up a phone appointment.

According to the NAIT website the full list of qualifying criteria a student must meet to be considered eligible are as follow:

    1. Students must be enrolled full-time.
    – DDCP (including Academic Upgrading): Full-Time enrollment consists of being enrolled in 9 credits.
    – English as a Second Language: Full-Time enrollment consists of enrollment in three courses.
    – Minimum GPA of 1.7
    2. Students must have exhausted other options, except for consumer credit, including CERB, CESB, student aid, NAIT payment plan, and other bill payment deferrals.
    3. Students must demonstrate financial need and have a documented urgent financial need directly related to COVID-19, such as travel, relocation, medical, lost wages, etc.

Unlike other relief programs like CERB and CESB which grant a lump sum of money, the Student Relief Fund has financial advisors working with students to decide what expenses an individual needs covered and how much is needed to cover them. A student is then awarded a bursary of up to $2,000 per year (September to August). This isn’t a one-time application and students may apply again until they reach their bursary limit.

“NAIT contributed $50,000 from the NAIT fund, which is doner funds, and then NAITSA donated another $50,000,” said Seiben.

Currently, there is also a crowdfunding campaign to raise additional funds for students in need. As of the time of writing it sits at $12,955 raised for a total of $112,955 available to students.