This week I announced that the Manitoba Scholarship and Bursary Initiative (MSBI) directly supports approximately 13,000 post-secondary students to pursue their dreams of furthering their education. Government-matched funds, together with the fundraising efforts done by universities and colleges in Manitoba, means that eligible students may qualify for up to $2,000 and $3,500 respectively. These upfront grants can be a major factor for students who are hoping to go back to school and set themselves up for a productive future. Financial barriers are only one thing that low-income households face when trying to decide if education is possible, and we are working to help more students get back in the classroom.
For 2017-2018, participating post-secondary institutions raised more than $16.7 million, which leveraged $23 million in scholarships and bursaries that go directly to students. The formula to match $1 of public money for every $2 in private funds raised by institutions means institutions have incentives to help raise support for students, and all funds must be provided directly to students, rather than invested in endowments. We also increased MSBI funding to a total of $6.75 million and expanded to an additional five institutions for a total of 12 colleges and universities. I expect that even more students will benefit from the MSBI in the coming year.
The decision to pursue any kind of post-secondary education, whether at college or university, is a major life-changing event. The path to higher education is an expensive one, but rather than just looking at the direct cost, I believe the true value of education needs to be looked at as a whole. Here in Manitoba we continue to have some of the lowest tuition rates across Canada, offering the third-lowest university tuition and second-lowest college tuition in Canada. We know it can be a challenge for students to balance their financial future and their studies, but affordable tuition makes Manitoba an attractive place to study.
Many students who are looking to go on to post-secondary studies also choose to stay in Manitoba, and with many great institutions close to home, there are benefits to staying in Manitoba. Post-secondary education, and the value received, needs to be evaluated on more than just cost. The relationships you make, the skills you learn, and the experience of independence in both living and learning can be a life-changing experience. Our province’s affordable rates are only one reason that I hope Manitoba students make the decision to further their education here at home.