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New provincial grant helps NIC nursing students cope with rising costs

Eligible programs include bachelor’s degree, some nursing diploma programs
Bachelor of Science in Nursing students Kali Brown and Raj Sidhu both feel the new grant program will offer some relief, and an incentive, to people considering nursing programs. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

A new provincial grant is helping nursing students on Vancouver Island cover costs while balancing a busy schedule that includes classes and clinical work, even outside employment.

At NIC, the eligible programs are the BSN program and the Practical Nursing Diploma. The grant is worth $2,000 for each eligible participant for each program year. The maximum value of this grant per student is $6,000 for bachelor degree programs and $4,000 for diploma programs.

“This is wonderful news for nursing students, and it emphasizes the importance the provincial government is placing on health care,” said Kathleen Haggith, Dean of NIC’s Faculty of Health and Human Services.

For NIC students like Raj Sidhu and Kali Brown, the grant provides some welcome relief. The two are finishing their first year of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at the college. It is the first year of the grant, which is open to all students enrolled in eligible nursing programs from Sept. 1, 2023, through Aug. 1, 2026.

“It’s a challenge to make it as someone who’s young and coming straight out of high school,” Brown said.

Some secondary students might be thinking about nursing after they graduate, she said, though many might hold off before applying because of costs.

“They’re taking a gap year or two because they can’t afford it,” Brown added.

With all the time demands, Sidhu points out it can add pressure to the financial demands.

“We can’t really work as much because of the hours,” he said.

He has worked as a care aide and continues to do some hours to help cover some of his expenses after he moved here from Surrey to attend the program.

Brown currently lives at home with her family, but she is still facing costs and agrees the grant program will help students going into nursing to focus on school, as it will help her wherever her career takes her.

“I love learning, and I love going to school,” she said. “Nursing is lifelong. The specialties are endless.”

For Indigenous students, there is also an additional grant program for BSN students worth up to $5,000 per program year, for a total maximum value of $15,000. Indigenous students in practical nursing are instead eligible for up to $5,000 per program year award under the Priority Program Bursaries Indigenous Student Recruitment stream.

One advantage for both grant programs is there is no application process, as tuition grants will be automatically applied by public post-secondary institutions.

The programs are the result of funding the Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills has received from the Ministry of Health to support the recruitment and retention of nursing students and new nurses in the province. For more information nursing options at NIC, see Health and Human Services under Programs.