Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 71.76
Liaison Mike Versteege
Submission Date Oct. 10, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.2

University of Alberta
PAE-10: Affordability and Access Programs

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 3.00 Lisa Dockman
Program Lead (Outreach & Engagement)
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have policies and programs in place to make it accessible and affordable to low-income students?:

A brief description of the institution’s participation in federal TRIO programs:

This field does not apply to Canadian institutions.

A brief description of the institution’s policies and programs to minimize the cost of attendance for low-income students?:

At the time of submission to STARS, the University of Alberta’s financial aid services were undergoing a transition. Many of the programs and services mentioned below have changed or re-organized. This credit depicts programs as they existed in the 2013-2014 academic year. For more detail on the status of the changes, please see the notes section of this credit.

The Financial Aid Office (FAO) includes a variety of services on campus associated with supporting those from low-income backgrounds and/or with financial need, such as:
The Access Fund, a non-repayable financial assistance for undergraduate students at the University of Alberta, provides assistance to students who are either ineligible for student loans, have reached the maximum in their student loan amounts, or simply do not have access to sufficient funding. Established in 1995, the Access Fund exists to bridge the gap between public student financial assistance programs and legitimate financial hardship to enable undergraduate students to continue their education. Supported by mandatory undergraduate student contributions of $14.08 per student per term*, more than 250 students received approximately than $500,000 in 2013/2014. More information can be found www.su.ualberta.ca/services/accessfund/.

The Students’ Union Awards Program provides over $100,000 in non-repayable financial assistance to students in recognition of leadership and contribution to both the campus community and the community at large. Some awards are targeted to underrepresented groups on campus including students with disabilities, part-time students etc.

Approximately half of the awards are earmarked for students with a demonstrated financial shortfall in the current academic year. For more information, please visit www.su.ualberta.ca/awards.

For many years the Student Financial Aid Information Centre (SFAIC), a financial aid office housed within the Students’ Union, employed staff with training and expertise in financial aid and loan programs. These staff acted as a resource to all students by answering phone and drop-in questions about financial planning, loan options, and bursary programs. By having money management and access services in a centralized location for those in need, post secondary education becomes more financially accessible. SFAIC provided services and supports for students in their student loan application and dispersal processes for both provincial and federal student loan programs. SFAIC also houses a database of campus award programs to provide accurate and up to date information to those interested.

SFAIC hosted a series of workshops on financial planning and budgeting. These learning sessions help equip students and campus organizations with skill sets for developing fiscal responsibility. Workshops were offered regularly throughout the year as well as hosted in conjunction with events such as New Student Orientation and leadership conferences; these learning opportunities are especially important to those from low-income backgrounds.

Student financial support services formerly provided by SFAIC are now provided by Student Connect. For more information visit: http://registrarsoffice.ualberta.ca/financial-support

For many years University Bursaries & Emergency Funding (UBEF), operated as a service of the University of Alberta, and administered bursary programs and provides needs-based, zero-interest emergency student loans to undergraduate and graduate students. These services still exist, albeit under a different name. For more information visit: http://registrarsoffice.ualberta.ca/financial-support

More than three million dollars in bursaries are administered by the institution annually. Bursaries make more cost-prohibitive faculties, such as Medicine & Dentistry, more economically accessible. Emergency Student Loans provide interest free loans to students experiencing delays in funding or unexpected expenses.

The Campus Food Bank (CFB) is a registered charity that distributes food items and toiletries to all members of the university community on a biweekly basis, making university life more economically accessible for many. The CFB is also a depot for the WECAN Food Basket Society, providing healthy and inexpensive food baskets to those who are interested. More information on these programs can be found www.campusfoodbank.com/

In addition, there exist many faculty specific bursaries and scholarships that are administered in a decentralized way, but in collaboration with the central financial supports. The Graduate Students Association (GSA) and the International Centre also operate unique bursary, emergency funding, and scholarship programs for their students.

* Student’s can choose to opt out of the program fee.

A brief description of the institution’s programs to equip the institution's faculty and staff to better serve students from low-income backgrounds:

Please refer to the description of the programs and policies outlined above.

A brief description of the institution’s programs to prepare students from low-income backgrounds for higher education:

Please refer to the description of the programs and policies outlined above.

A brief description of the institution's scholarships for low-income students:

Approximately 25 million dollars in undergraduate awards are distributed annually through the Office of the Registrar. These scholarships are distributed to students as part of the recruitment and retention process with varying eligibility criteria. Certain scholarships focus on leadership competencies and academic excellence, while some are awarded based on financial need. In addition, specific scholarships focus on recruiting traditionally underrepresented groups such as rural and Aboriginal students.

More information can be found here: http://www.registrarsoffice.ualberta.ca

A brief description of the institution’s programs to guide parents of low-income students through the higher education experience:

As mentioned previously, financial aid services as offered through Student Connect. They are open year-round during regular work hours and provide information services for students and parents. Also, the Centre for Student Development (CSD), a service of the Students’ Union, hosts Parent Orientation every summer term to equip parents of incoming students with the knowledge they require for their children’s success. Financial workshops have regularly been a part of Parent Orientation. The CSD also hosts a Transition to the University program tailored to new students that also meet the needs of their parents through a parent-specific module.

More information can be found here: http://www.su.ualberta.ca/services/orientation/parent

A brief description of the institution’s targeted outreach to recruit students from low-income backgrounds:

The National Recruitment Office has a comprehensive recruitment plan for recruiting high school students in Alberta and British Columbia. Recruitment strategies include connecting with students residing in high schools in all communities, whether low or high income. Because it is hard to define the income of prospective high school students during our interactions, we do not have a comprehensive plan to service low income students in a different capacity than any other prospective high school students. We do, however, distribute publications and provide presentations that outline the financial support systems that can be found at UAlberta.

A brief description of the institution’s other admissions policies and programs:


A brief description of the institution’s other financial aid polices or programs:

The Office of the Registrar also hosts a Student Refugee Program where one international refugee, chosen based on suggestions provided by the on-campus group World University Service Canada (WUSC), is provided with a full scholarship for the duration of their degree.

More information can be found here: http://www.registrarsoffice.ualberta.ca

A brief description of the institution’s other policies and programs not covered above:


The website URL where information about programs in each of the areas listed above is available:

The University has embarked on an ambitious initiative to create one physical and virtual centre for student financial support with an effective referral system where necessary, administered within the Office of the Registrar’s portfolio.

The amalgamation of financial support services and resources currently offered by several units across campus will create a unified, efficient, transparent one-stop service for students where requirements within the umbrella of financial support can be met. This will ensure consistency, equity, and ease of access are offered and administrative efficiencies are gained thereby playing a key role in strategic enrolment management and the ability for UAlberta to be more strategic in their approach to meeting student’s financial needs. Where needs can’t be met within the Office of the Registrar an effective referral system is being developed.

The opportunity to establish one unified Student Financial Support Centre (physical and virtual) and effective referral system aligns closely with the Student Connect initiative currently being undertaken by the Office of the Registrar and its partners. Endeavoring to foster a student-first experience, a centralized and unified student financial support approach will offer a cross-functional and transformative service delivery model. This will allow UAlberta to attract and retain students through ease of access, the promotion of diversity, and the encouragement of student retention that transcends financial barriers. The need to provide and improve the level of financial support, both through awards and bursaries but also through outreach and education, is identified as a key institutional strategic focus of the University of Alberta.


Information within this credit was provided by:
Fiona Halbert, Team Lead, Student Financial, Office of the Registrar
Kelty Heck, National Recruitment Lead, Office of the Registrar
Rachel De Leon, Bursary Program Coordinator, University Bursaries & Emergency Funding
Shelley Mackay, Office Manager, Financial Aid Office

Overall sign off:
Pat Schultz, Associate Registrar, Office of the Registrar

Parent Orientation: www.su.ualberta.ca/services/orientation/parent/

Campus Food Bank: www.campusfoodbank.com/

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.