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Putting faith in funding

Provincial program change seen as boon to SBC, Providence students

By: Staff Writer

Posted: 03/19/2017 9:26 AM

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Steinbach Bible College president Rob Reimer (seated, centre) said he is pleased with the province’s decision to include faith-based colleges in its provincial scholarship and bursary program. Also pictured are (left to right) academic dean Terry Hiebert, students Gillian Plett, Mikayla Goertzen, and Kendall Reimer, director of financial aid Dalen Kroeker, and student Ashley Penner.

JORDAN ROSS | THE CARILLON Enlarge Image

Steinbach Bible College president Rob Reimer (seated, centre) said he is pleased with the province’s decision to include faith-based colleges in its provincial scholarship and bursary program. Also pictured are (left to right) academic dean Terry Hiebert, students Gillian Plett, Mikayla Goertzen, and Kendall Reimer, director of financial aid Dalen Kroeker, and student Ashley Penner.

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Leaders of two local colleges are thrilled that their respective institutions have been added to a provincial scholarship and bursary program.

This week, the province announced that Providence University College and Steinbach Bible College would be added to its Manitoba Scholarship and Bursary Initiative (MSBI). The program encourages private donations for post-secondary bursaries and scholarships by matching one-third of donations collected.

"We were happy to be included, and we appreciate being recognized," said Providence president David Johnson.

"It’s a big win for our students," said SBC president Rob Reimer.

Johnson said the inclusion of faith-based institutions helps to level the playing field between large, public universities and smaller, private ones. While the former typically see their operating grant increased annually, he explained, Providence’s stays the same, meaning the institution must sometimes raise tuition to cover increased operating costs.

"That always eliminates some students from being able to come, so adding some money to scholarships makes it possible for those students to still come to Providence," said Johnson.

"If what’s going to keep a student from coming here is $2,000, this will allow us to give that student $2,000 so they can come."

The one-third matching of private donations will come with a cap of $25,000 for both SBC and Providence, Reimer and Johnson confirmed. Reimer said he expects the financial benefits begin in September. In total, SBC provides $150,000 in scholarships and bursaries for its students each year, Reimer said, while Johnson said Providence is on track to reach $500,000 next school year.

Moving forward, Johnson said the initiative’s apparent flexibility in how the funds are divided is a plus. In some cases, students who would not have otherwise received a scholarship or bursary may now obtain one, while in other cases, students already qualifying for one may see its dollar value increased. Reimer said the money could, for instance, be split into 25 portions of $1,000, positively affecting nearly one quarter of SBC’s student body.

About half of students at both institutions receive a scholarship or bursary annually. SBC has 110 students registered this semester while Providence has a student body of 509.

Johnson hopes the changes will factor in to tough decisions made by potential students as they compare the pros and cons of various post-secondary institutions in Manitoba.

Canadian Mennonite University and Booth University College are also included in the expanded program.

"To me it signals that the four faith-based [institutions] add significantly to the contributions of Manitoba," said Reimer, who observed that over 80 percent of SBC graduates to volunteer in their community, thereby benefiting not only the church, but wider society.

"We’ve been told that they appreciate the contribution that small, private, and faith-based

schools make to the whole post-secondary education system," said Johnson, who said Education Minister Ian Wishart has, in prior discussions, given him the impression the provincial government "is looking more favourably on schools like Providence."

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