COVID-19

Preface :

Your national student association is in daily contact with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEES) and the cabinet of Jean-François Roberge, Minister of Education and Higher Education. While we’re still waiting on answers to some of the questions you’ve sent us, everything we’ve heard back is available on this page, and we’ll continue updating it with new information as it arrives. If you more questions you’d like answered, please send them to info@unionetudiante.ca.

Finances :

I lost my job (full or part time), how am I supposed to get by?

The QSU has prepared a diagram below for those who’ve recently lost work, or who expect to lose it soon. Unfortunately, we don’t have all the answers yet. The QSU is still working with the Government of Quebec to protect those who fall through the cracks of federal programs.

CERB Application: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/apply-for-cerb-with-cra.html 

Application for the CESB : https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/emergency-student-benefit.html

Canadian Employment Insurance Application: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei.html

Student Financial Aid waiver for exceptional cases: http://www.afe.gouv.qc.ca/droits-de-recours/ 

The first payments for the new CERB will only arrive in mid-April. What should I do until then?

In his March 24, 2020, press conference, the Premier of Quebec, François Legault, announced that his government would act quickly to help those who need additional liquidity until mid-April, especially for rent at the beginning of the month. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like anything was put in place prior to April 1, 2020.

I pay for my studies with my summer job. As it stands, I don’t think I’ll be able to find work with summer. Can I apply to a governmental program to compensate for it?

On April 22, Justin Trudeau announced the creation of a Canada Emergency Student Benefit. This benefit had been long awaited, since many students have not been eligible for the other support programs announced since March 15.

Full details for this new benefit are not yet available. The QSU is still waiting for answers on this measure, how it will be applied, and its eligibility criteria. This FAQ will be updated with that information as soon as it is available.

Will the CESB be considered as income when I apply for student financial aid pour 2020-2021?

For the time being, nothing has been confirmed by the Student Financial Aid (AFE) program. The QSU is asking that this benefit not be considered as income when calculating AFE.

Are international students eligible to receive the CESB? 

Currently, there are no indications that this benefit will be available to international students. The QSU asked that this measure be extended to include them.

  • Other Federal Financial Measures Announced on April 22 :  

-> Canada Student Service Grant :

Will the Canada Student Service Grants be considered as income when I apply for student financial aid for 2020-2021?

For the time being, nothing has been confirmed by Student Financial Aid.

Currently, grants and bursaries are considered as admissible income when they exceed $7,500 a year.

The QSU as asked that the Canada Student Service Grant not be considered as income, since it’s a form of financial support offered to students in the context of the crisis. It shouldn’t have any incidence on the financial aid they receive for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Does this grant limit my access to the CESB? 

No, this grant is supplementary and doesn’t limit your access to CESB payments. They can be collected simultaneously.

-> Funding Extensions from Federal Granting Agencies :

Funding being provided by the Federal Granting Agencies (FGA) will be extended by three to four months to support the extension of research projects.

Will grants and funding provided by the Quebec Research Funds (FRQ) also be extended? 

The QSU has asked that this funding also be extended. As of yet, nothing as been announced by the FRQ.

-> Improvements to the Canada Loans and Grants Programs for the 2020-2021 Award Year :

Because the Government of Quebec administers its own loans and bursaries program, it will receive a compensatory payment which it may use as it sees fit.

For the time being, the Government of Quebec has not confirmed what it intends to do with this new transfer.

Will the Government of Quebec also double student bursaries in the province?

Nothing has been confirmed by François Legault’s government. The Quebec financial aid program operates differently than the Canadian program. There is therefore no guarantees that a similar measure will be taken in qubec.

How will the Government of Quebec adjust the AFE program using the new federal transfer for loans and grants for the 2020-2021 award year?

There haven’t been any announcements regarding how this transfer will be used to improve the student financial aid program.

Student Financial Aid (AFE) : 

Now that my semester will be running longer than expected, will my loan and bursary payments be extended as well?

Yes. Administrators from the AFE program are in communication with each university and will make adjustments to your payments if the semester is extended beyond what was initially set in the academic calendar.

I’ll be receiving the final payment for my loans and bursaries in April. What am I supposed to do after that?

There are several scenarios :

The Canada Emergency Student Benefit could support you over the summer, as it will provide students with $1,250 a month (may to august). Specific details for this program have yet to be released.

If you are a beneficiary of the Quebec Student Financial Aid program, you can also apply for a waiver and explain your specific financial needs to seek an adjustment to the financial aid you’re receiving.

If you are returning to school in fall 2020 and you’re facing an exceptional situation over the summer,  the MEES recommends making a request to be considered full-time between two periods of study, for students in a grave and exceptional situation: Form 1103

http://www.afe.gouv.qc.ca/en/all-forms/

How can I submit the form without faxing it?

Fax isn’t the only option for submitting the form. Here’s how to submit it online:

On the main interface of the website, click on Online Services.

Connect to your Online File on the Quebec financial aid website. Select the tab to Submit a Document.

Click on the button that says: Upload a document on a voluntary basis.

Select the category of document you want to submit.

Search for the document by clicking on the magnifying glass.

Select: Attestation of a Grave and Exceptional Situation (Complete Destitution)

Select the 2019-2020 award year.

Click on the paperclip to attach the form you filled out.

Make sure you’ve attached the completed version as a PDF. No other document format is accepted.

Click on the Add button, otherwise your document will not be attached.

Click on the Upload button to submit your document.

If your financial situation is precarious enough to threaten the continuation of your studies, you can also request a waiver:

http://www.afe.gouv.qc.ca/en/appealsremedies/

For its part, the QSU will continue pushing to ensure that processing for these applications is accelerated and is conducted in an inclusive manner.

If I drop a class because of the crisis and I lose my full-time student status, will my payments be affected?

AFE will not be changing anyone’s student status for the winter 2020 semester. So, even if you lose your full-time status at your university because you’ve dropped classes, your payments from AFE will not be affected!

If I drop all of my classes because of the crisis and I lose student status, will my payments be affected?

AFE will not be changing anyone’s student status for the winter 2020 semester. So, even if you aren’t registered in any classes for the remainder of the semester, your payments from AFE will continue until the end of the winter 2020 semester.

I’m in the last semester of my eligibility period for AFE. If I drop my classes because I’m not able to complete them under these conditions, will I be eligible for the program next year?

The MEES’ response to this question has two elements:

– If you will be enrolled part-time when you return to school, you will unfortunately not be eligible for the loans and bursaries program.

– If you will be enrolled as a full-time student, you can apply for a waiver: http://www.afe.gouv.qc.ca/en/appealsremedies/

Consult the Guide for Presenting an Exceptional Case Application to the Examination Committee for Exceptional Cases

The QSU is asking the government to be flexible during the crisis and process waiver applications quickly so students can access the money they need to get through the situation.

Important informations on applying for a waiver

Requests for a waiver must be made in collaboration with your institution’s financial aid office, since they have to submit the application. These offices are accessible even while your university is closed. You’ll need to write to them so they can explain how the Ministry of Higher Education is operating during the exceptional situation caused by COVID-19.

For its part, the QSU is continuing to ask the government to extend eligibility for the program to 12 months, based on the semesters that will be affected by this crisis, since a waiver application doesn’t guarantee access to the program and represents an additional burden during a deeply stressful time.

The QSU has also asked the government to increase the debt limit for beneficiaries in the 2019-2020 award year, to make sure that everyone who requests an exceptional case waiver or to be deemed full-time between semesters is able to receive financial aid for the duration of their studies without being penalized as a result of this crisis.

Academics : Distance Education :

One important fact that must be understood is that each university has complete independence over the academic decisions it makes. The MEES can only make recommendations. As such, the QSU is asking the government to develop a list of best practices that will allow universities to lessen impacts on students, in keeping with their own specific situations.

Why aren’t all of my classes being given in the same way, even though they’re at the same university?

The way something is taught must be adapted to each context. This is why professors benefit from what is known as “academic freedom.” This gives them the ability to choose the pedagogical methods that are best adapted to both their subject matter and their own capacities. University professors are under no obligation to have any specific pedagogical training, so there are undoubtedly cases where their understanding of the tools available to them may be limited.

As such, it would be undesirable to impose a single technique or method on every member of the university’s teaching staff. There are also certain activities, like practical assignments and internships, that are extremely difficult to complete at a distance.

Similarly, each student is experiencing this crisis differently: some don’t have access to a good enough internet connection at home to complete online courses, some need to take care of family members, others will become sick, etc. Different people also have different academic goals, like getting into a program with limited spots, improving their grades after poor initial results or even a failing grade or acquiring the skills they need to complete an academic program.

This is why the QSU has recommended that universities give students three options that respect their individual abilities to continue their semester during the crisis:

  • Each student decides to continue their semester or not:
    1. If they choose not to continue their semester and had high enough grades on March 14 to pass the course, they receive a “pass” notation in their transcript.
    2. If they didn’t have a passing grade, they will be able to withdraw from the course with a tuition refund.
  • If a student chooses to continue their semester at a distance, the same processes should apply as in the beginning of a semester, since their basic study conditions have so drastically changed. That is, students should have the right to withdraw from their courses without any negative consequences to their grade point average and with a full refund of their tuition.
  • If a student completes their semester, with their final exam, they should have the choice between two types of note: pass/fail or the regular letter grade offered by their institution.

As previously discussed, the QSU has asked the Ministry to recommend these options to universities. However, each association will be responsible for making sure their university provides the options that are best for their members.

Academics : Internships :

While universities have independence on academic matters, certain programs are accredited. These programs have to respect set standards because their graduates will be given the right to exercise certain professions or access other programs (teachers, nurses, doctors, etc.). It is therefore possible that your university doesn’t have total control over the requirements for successfully completing your program.

I’m in an accredited program and my internship has been suspended. When will I be able to retake it?

The Minister of Education and Higher Education, Jean-François Roberge, has told us that he’s been in discussion with the professional orders and other accrediting bodies and has asked them to be flexible on their regulations around internships, especially those at the end of a student’s degree. The Ministry has also highlighted the collaborative approach being taken by professional orders to try and help students successfully graduate during this crisis while still ensuring they have the skills they need to practice their profession. The QSU has asked for a list of the organization that have committed to adapting their regulations. We’re still waiting to receive that information, which should help clarify the situation.

I’m NOT in an accredited program and my internship has been suspended. When will I be able to retake it?

Unfortunately, internships are managed locally by each academic unit in a university. It is therefore impossible to provide a comprehensive overview of each student’s situation or develop a single standard that should be applied in all situations. We encourage you to contact your local student association, as it’s better placed to address your concerns. If the government decides to put overarching guidelines in place, we’ll update this page to include them.

I received the first half of my scholarship under the new Intern Perseverance and Success Scholarship program. If the remainder of my internship is cancelled, will I still receive the second instalment as planned?

The second instalment of the Intern Perseverance and Success Scholarship is sent out after the government receives confirmation from your university that you’ve completed the internship. So if your internship ends early, is suspended to be continued at a later date, or you’re failing it, the second half of the scholarship will be sent when your university tells the government you’ve completed it. The QSU encourages you to contact your local student association to get more information on your specific situation, since they are in contact with your academic unit’s administrators.

Academics : Scholarships and Research Grants : 

Consult the following site for questions on how FRQ grants and scholarships will be paid :

http://www.frqs.gouv.qc.ca/covid-19-mesures-et-programmes 

For information on grants and funding provided by federal granting agencies, consult their websites and social media accounts:

CRSNG : https://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/index_fra.asp

https://www.facebook.com/crsngcanada/

CRSH : https://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/home-accueil-fra.aspx

https://www.facebook.com/CRSHCANADA/

IRSC : https://cihr-irsc.gc.ca/f/51917.html

https://www.facebook.com/RechercheEnSanteAuCanada/