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Scholarship funds will reach more students, support families

By Contributor
August 19th, 2011

More B.C. students will benefit from provincial examination scholarship money for post-secondary education this year as eligibility criteria shifts to better reflect the provincial graduation program.

As of the 2011-12 school year, scholarship criteria will shift to focus on students’ performance in grades 10, 11 and 12 required provincial exams. This change will ensure that scholarship dollars reach the maximum number of B.C. students, making post-secondary education more affordable for them and their families.

The provincial examination scholarships, typically valued at $1,000 each with the top 20 students earning $2,500, had previously been awarded based only on students’ performance in their Grade 12 exams, both required and optional. This year, optional provincial exams will no longer be offered.

Secondary students in B.C. were once required to write a series of Grade 12 provincial exams in order to graduate from secondary school.

When the graduation program changed in 2004, a suite of grades 10 and 11 required exams were added and many of the Grade 12 exams became optional.

This gave students more flexibility and choice in their course selection, and recognized the various post-graduation pathways students could take.

Since that time, post-secondary institutions have changed their admissions criteria and no longer use Grade 12 optional exam marks.

As a result, the number of students writing optional Grade 12 exams has dropped significantly – with about 80 per cent currently opting out. This has led to a decline in the number of provincial exam scholarships being awarded, leaving an estimated $2.5 million in scholarship dollars unclaimed.

The shift in scholarship criteria will mean more students are automatically eligible for the provincial examination scholarships. It is anticipated that the number of scholarships awarded will return to levels on par with those from before the introduction of optional exams, when approximately $5 million in scholarships had been awarded to B.C. students.

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