Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School alumnus in Markham benefits from TELUS bursary program

The Penticton Herald consulted Certified Financial Planning Professional Kelly Ho with Vancouver’s DLD Financial Group Ltd to discuss how Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School alumnus in Markham benefits from TELUS bursary program.

While education opens doors to a brighter future, not all youth have the resources needed to attend college or university.

A recent poll released by Embark, Canada’s education savings and planning company, reveals that 75 per cent of students find it very hard to afford post-secondary education, and nearly 1 in 3 students have considered withdrawing from their studies due to financial difficulty, with the average cost of a four-year university degree in 2022 starting at $96,004 for students in residence, or $48,074 for students living at home.

On Oct. 11 TELUS Friendly Future Foundation announced the launch of Canada’s largest bursary fund: the new $50-million Student Bursary, supporting students facing financial barriers impacting their ability to enrol or continue their education.

The program offers bursaries valued at $5K for university students and $3K for college students between the ages of 17 and 29 annually. Raymond Zhu, a former Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School student in Markham, is one of the first round of bursary recipients this year.

According to TELUS, 13 per cent of the initial bursary recipients selected in Ontario are from York Region, and this is expected to increase as additional recipients are selected from the educational partners.

“TELUS’ bursary has relieved some financial stress from myself and from my parents,” Zhu said, knowing that he can make choices that will further enhance his learning experience, rather than having to optimize everything in his degree (co-ops) for paying the tuition.

Zhu’s financial struggle is not unique among students. Embark’s survey also found that half of the post-secondary students across Canada have taken on debt to pay for school, with 60 per cent of them noting they have had to cut out certain necessities to make ends meet.

Laura Whiteland, certified financial planner at Inclusive Financial Planning, thinks that soaring food and housing prices, inflation and other factors have kept the education financial anxieties boiling, which fosters a lot of part-time students.

“With the cost of living increasing, it is understandable why students are considering giving up on their education,” certified financial planner Kelly Ho said, echoing Whiteland’s view, while encouraging students to look at education as an investment, because hopefully it will be able to have a higher potential to earn more income in the long run.

To ease anxiety, Ho suggested, it would help for students to have basic financial literacy on how to budget and project out on a plan to repay their student loans after they enter the workforce. Anxiety results from the lack of a plan, so if there is a plan, the level of anxiety decreases.

Zhu is studying at the University of Waterloo for their systems design engineering program and will be spending his next co-op work term in Uganda, working with local community-based organizations to help sell sustainable electric appliances to communities without electricity.

“I don’t have a crystal-clear picture of what I’m going to be doing in the far future, but ideally, I would like to apply some of my hard engineering skills into a problem space I find compelling, like solving climate change,” he said.

“Through the TELUS Student Bursary, we are helping to empower and motivate young people to pursue their dreams, realize their full potential and make a positive difference in their communities around causes that matter most to them,” said Darren Entwistle, president and CEO of TELUS.

The next student bursary application window will open in the spring of 2024. To learn more, visit friendlyfuture.com.