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Mount Saint Vincent University to cover all tuition and fees for former youth in care

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Alexa MacLean/ Global News

A Nova Scotia university is leading the way in making post-secondary education more accessible by launching a new tuition waiver program.

Mount Saint Vincent University plans to cover 100 per cent of tuition and compulsory fees for former youth in care.

“We could not be more thrilled,” MSVU president and vice-chancellor Mary Bluechardt said in a news release.

“We are home to a higher percentage of non-traditional students and we pride ourselves on providing the personalized, supportive environment they need to thrive.”

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The MSVU Post-Care Tuition Waiver Program will allow students who have been in the foster care system for at least one year as a child or youth to access free education.

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Those who are eligible must meet the criteria of their chosen program to be admitted.

MSVU said in the release it is open to students straight from high school and mature students, “appreciating that not everyone’s journey to university is a linear one.”

Bluechardt said MSVU’s commitment to removing barriers to education runs deep.

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Jane Kovarikova, the founder of the Child Welfare Political Action Committee who also used to be in the foster care system, said she is grateful for the commitment.

“Their leadership in helping to bring these opportunities coast-to-coast is an inspiration,” Kovarikova said in the release.

“As a former youth-in-care, I am grateful to MSVU for making post-secondary more accessible for people like me.”

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The new program will launch in its pilot phase in January 2021, with a full launch planned for September 2021.

The school said eligible students must be in or entering their first degree. They also cannot currently be part of the N.S. Department of Community Services’ Educational Bursary Program for Children in Care.

A specialized navigator will be available to participating students, MSVU said, “from completing the tuition waiver program application to completing their degree.”

MSVU said the university will be funding this program with some help from MSVU donors, as it continues to accept donations.