UPDATED July 24! B.C. Wildfires: Student Disaster Contingencies

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British Columbia forest fire, Getty Images

Update for students living in proximity to B.C. wildfires:

NEW

Q&A for borrowers with Canada Student Loans and/or Canada-B.C. Integrated Loans

The Question and Answers , prepared by the Canadian Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, provides more detailed information that borrowers with Canada Student Loans and/or Canada-B.C. Integrated Loans may need if they are affected by the B.C. wildfires.

Q1. How are Canada Student Loan/Integrated Provincial Student Loan and Canada Apprentice Loan borrowers impacted by the wildfires in British Columbia?

A1. Canada Student Loan/Integrated Provincial Student Loan and Canada Apprentice Loan borrowers currently living or studying in areas of British Columbia affected by the wildfires may not be able to continue their studies due to evacuation or damage to the buildings and infrastructure in their community. Borrowers in repayment who reside and/or work in the area may have difficulty making their loan payments during the period that they are evacuated and if their homes or places of employment have been damaged. Permanent residents of these communities studying elsewhere in Canada may need to discontinue studies to deal with the situation at home.

 Q2. What are the Government of Canada and the governments of the provinces with integrated provincial student loans doing to assist Canada Student Loan/Integrated Student Loan and Canada Apprentice Loan borrowers impacted by the wildfires in British Columbia?

A2. The Government of Canada and the five integrated loan provinces are making it easier for borrowers with a permanent address in affected communities to manage their loan repayment. Impacted borrowers in repayment can benefit from expedited and easier access to the Repayment Assistance Plan (RAP).

 Q3. Which provinces have their loans integrated with Canada Student Loans?

A3. British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador have their student loans integrated with Canada Student Loans.

Borrowers from these provinces can contact the National Student Loans Service Centre (NSLSC) at 1-888-815-4514 regarding their Integrated Student Loan.

 Q4. Where can borrowers from non-integrated provinces and territories get more information?

A4. British Columbia residents in affected communities with student loans from Yukon, Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island can contact the NSLSC at 1-888-815-4514 regarding their Canada Student Loan, and the province or territory with whom their provincial loan is with.

Borrowers with loans from the Northwest Territories, Nunavut or Quebec can contact the province or territory.

For provincial and territory student loan program contact information, visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/student-financial-aid/provincial-offices.html

Canada Apprentice Loan borrowers can call the Canada Apprentice Loan Service Centre (CALSC) at 1-855-844-5670.

 Q5: I am a borrower currently in-study who is not able to continue my studies due to evacuation or damage to buildings and/or infrastructure in my community. Will my current funding be impacted?

A5: In the case of a short-term interruption of study due to the wildfires, the time that you are unable to attend classes will be considered part of your study period and will, therefore, have no impact on your funding as long as you recommence classes at the end of the period of school closure.

If your program is extended to ‘make up’ class time missed due to closure, you can request a reassessment and be eligible for additional funds for the additional study period. If it becomes necessary in any program to cancel the semester/term, you will not be penalized for non-completion of this semester. In other words, an overaward will not be calculated on your funding. For more information, please contact StudentAid BC at 1-800-561-1818.

 Q6. How are the Government of Canada and the five integrated loan provinces making it easier for impacted Canada Student Loan/Integrated Provincial Student Loan and Canada Apprentice Loan borrowers to manage their loan repayment?

A6. Impacted borrowers in repayment who call the NSLSC or the CALSC will be placed on a priority call list and a senior agent will help them apply for RAP (completing RAP applications by phone instead of on-line or by mail can speed up the process). For these borrowers, exceptional circumstances will be taken into account so they can be approved more easily and expeditiously.

 Q7. What is the Repayment Assistance Plan?

A7. RAP reduces Canada Student Loan/Integrated Provincial Student Loan or Canada Apprentice Loan payments to what borrowers can reasonably afford, based on their family income and family size. Depending on their assessed need, eligible borrowers may not be required to make any payments. While on RAP, which is provided in six-month increments, the governments, under Stage 1, will pay the interest owing for up to 10 six-month periods or 60 months. Under Stage 2, the governments will begin to pay the interest and principal payments on the borrower’s behalf. For more detailed information on RAP, visit:

https://studentaidbc.ca/repay/repayment-help/repayment-assistance-plan

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/student-financial-aid/student-loan/student-loans/student-loans-repayment-assistance-plan.html

 Q8. How can impacted Canada Student Loan/Integrated Provincial Student Loan borrowers apply for student loan repayment assistance?

A8. Impacted borrowers should call the NSLSC at 1-888-815-4514 to apply for RAP. Borrowers residing in affected communities will be placed on priority client care lists at the NSLSC. Senior call centre agents will address their exceptional circumstances when they call in. The agents will walk these borrowers through the application process, facilitating document transfers and setting up temporary mailing addresses as required.

 Q9. Who can apply for the Repayment Assistance Plan?

A9. British Columbia residents in affected communities will benefit from a faster RAP application process; however, any Canada Student Loan/Integrated Provincial Student Loan or Canada Apprentice Loan borrower experiencing difficulty repaying their loans can apply for RAP.

 Q10. How many Canada Student Loan/Integrated Provincial Student Loan and Canada Apprentice Loan borrowers are impacted by the wildfires in British Columbia?

A10. As of July 14, 2017, a total of 3,612 federal and/or provincial student loan borrowers have been identified as residing in the affected regions, including 1,097 borrowers currently in repayment status, 2,261 in default and 254 currently in study.

*****

(July 11, 2017)

AU extends our thoughts and well-wishes to our students and their families and friends who are presently dealing with the constraints and challenges wrought by these devastating B.C. interior wildfires — including the forced residential and/or work evacuations of tens of thousands of residents. You have our sincerest sympathies.

We note and appreciate that, at this time of urgency and inconvenience, your AU coursework is undoubtedly the least of your priorities. As such, if there is any way that we can help reduce concerns over your studies with AU, please don’t hesitate to contact us when the time is appropriate.

Disaster Contingency

If you are an AU student living in an evacuated British Columbia community, or are supporting one of these communities as a first-responder, please note the following Athabasca University disaster contingency supports:

  • AU will waive exam re-booking fees and course extension fees.
  • AU will replace any AU-provided learning materials that have been lost or damaged as a result of the fires.
  • We recognize that some students may have to put studies on hold for a while. If you are one of these students, we will allow free course withdrawals with a full refund. We’ll be here when you’re ready to return.

These supports have been enacted to ensure that your studies are not adding to your present pressures. If you have other questions, don’t hesitate to contact our Information Centre (see contact info below).

Course- & Exam-related inquiries

For course-related queries, phone: 1-800-788-9041 ext. 6949 enrol@athabascau.ca

For exam related inquiries, phone: 1-800-788-9041 ext.  6579  examunit@athabascau.ca

Any further updates will be included on this site as well as on our social media channels.

AU Info Centre

For more information on the above disaster contingencies for students, please contact our Information Centre, by phone, during business hours (Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. – noon (MST); and 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. (MST)

Toll-free (Canada / U.S.):

1 (800) 788-9041

International:
1 (780) 675-6100

AU Natural Disaster Emergency Bursary

The AU Natural Disaster Emergency Bursaries are intended to assist AU students to continue with their education without interruption due to being affected by a natural disaster. Recipients are eligible to apply for a second bursary upon successful completion of initial bursary-funded course.

Student Lifeline (AUSU & AUGSA)

As a student with Athabasca University you are eligible for mental health and wellness support through Student Lifeline, sponsored by AUSU and AUGSA.

Red Cross Donations

 

If you wish to donate to Red Cross disaster relief funding for residents please visit its site.

 

Get in Touch

If you have questions about an AU program or service, please contact the information centre.

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