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Tips for a Student who is Blind or Partially Sighted

Financial Aid & Awards Blog - January 31, 2019 - 4:11pm
Blog by Anu PalaBe proactive! It is your responsibility as a student to take responsibility for your education. Accessibility Services is happy to provide support.

When considering a post secondary institution, ensure that the school has an active Accessibility Services that supports in place to help you navigate the system.

Make contact with Accessibility Services as soon as practicable to begin discussing your education support needs.

Request documentation from your Doctor, describing the nature of the functional limitations of your disability and the accommodations that you may require.

Building a good relationship with the staff in Accessibility Services, and faculty and staff who will contribute to your success.

Practice patience. It can take time to get supports in place. Be assertive, but not aggressive when making requests or following up.

Request to speak to your professors prior to your course to establish a relationship. Discuss concerns and ask questions.

If there are materials that are inaccessible or you have not received the name of a textbook for an upcoming course, it is your responsibility to approach the program head or your contact at the Accessibility Services office.

Tips for Supporting a Student who is Blind or Partially Sighted

Financial Aid & Awards Blog - January 31, 2019 - 4:02pm
Blog by Anu PalaEmbarking on post secondary studies can be challenging for any student, but when the student is blind or partially sighted, navigating the system can be even more challenging. Providing a supportive and inclusive learning environment will help to set up the student for success.

The following tips will help faculty, staff, and instructors support students with vision loss. Remember that each student’s experience is unique, so what works for one may not necessarily work for another. When in doubt, ask!

Personal InteractionBe open to connecting with your student prior to or at the beginning of the course.

When greeting a totally blind student, be sure to use their first name so that they knows you are talking to them. Also identify yourself as the student may not recognize your voice.

Take the time to educate yourself about some common eye conditions as this will give you a greater understanding of what a person with vision loss experiences, and ask the student to describe how they see.

When guiding a student to a seat, offer your elbow for sighted guide and walk a step or two ahead rather than guiding them in front of you.

Ensure that you have established a method of communication between you and your student for receiving assignments or other material in electronic format, if not through MOODLE.

InstructionTry to confirm the textbook and reading materials well in advance of the start of course and send it to the Program Associate. This is vital for Accessibility Services to ensure that the reading materials are available in a format that is accessible to the student.

Use high contrast in your PowerPoint presentations.

When using visuals in presentations in class, take the time to describe them out loud so that the student with vision loss understands what everyone else is looking at.

When writing on the board, ensure that you verbalize what is being written so that the student can follow along.

When using videos that do not have dialog, ensure that you describe any important elements to the student afterwards or in advance.

Mitacs Accelerate: The how-to at RRU

Financial Aid & Awards Blog - January 15, 2019 - 9:14am

Mitacs’ mission is to build relationships between researchers and industry, including most Canadian not-for-profit, and create more innovation in Canada.
One of their principal programs is Mitacs Accelerate, a 4 to 6 month internship program where a student solves a company’s research problem that falls into any field of research. The company contributes $7,500 and Mitacs matches it to create a $15,000 renewable “award”.  The student gains research experience under the guidance of an academic supervisor and a company supervisor, building their CV, and the company receives the solution to their problem.

Key things to know about this program
  • It has a 99% application success rate.
  • It provides funding for up to 2 years for masters (max $60,000), 4 years for doctoral (max $120,000), and 3 years for post docs (max $90,000).
  • Approximately 50% of the intern’s time is to be spent at the academic institution or in an appropriate research learning environment, and 50% of the time on site with the organization partner.
  • Your research will directly benefit organizations and society.
          Check out the Accelerate webpage to find the application, a list of past funded projects, FAQs, and a webinar on how to find a partner organization.
·         Aim to submit the application no later than two months before the optimal research start date.
Collaboration structure
The company can be for profit both nationally and internationally, or it can be a not-for-profitin Canada.
It is the student’s responsibility to find the company partner and tenacity and flexibility is important. To find this company, leverage your skills, personal networks, alumni and their networks, Nolan’s network - basically everyone’s network. The goal is to get a warm introduction to someone at the company.
When talking to a potential company partner, sell research expertise and skill set, not necessarily the project. Find the win-win with how you as the research learner will benefit and how the company will benefit. The greater the overlap between the academic research plan and a company’s research project the better.
An RRU faculty supervisor is usually assigned leading up to the research component of the degree program. In some cases, where research interests align and availability permits, the faculty member may agree to supervise outside the parameters required of the program (e.g. typically one year for masters, two years for doctoral programs).  Ensure there is a clear understanding of supervision needs and limitations, if any. Also, mind that associate faculty must have a current contract with RRU to qualify as an RRU faculty supervisor.
Students who are in programs with an internship component can rely on internship development assistance from the Career Learning and Development in the normal course of the program. 
Writing the proposal
Begin by reading all of the application documents before writing a word.  Then, as you write, remember that this funding is for the benefit of learning and creating connections, therefore address these themes: How will you benefit? How will the company benefit?
The application should be led by the student but with assistance from the company supervisor to ensure the research plan is aligned with the company needs. Get feedback on your research-defining process and the draft proposal from your faculty supervisor to ensure it is academically relevant. When the application is at the final review phase, email it to Nolan Beise, Mitacs’ Business Development Specialist assigned to RRU. 
Reviewing the application with the company supervisor, the academic supervisor, and Nolan will ensure the application will more likely pass through external review with ease.
The budget
Consider having the funding disbursed as stipend. Alternately, up to $5,000 can be directed toward travel and expenses for either the student or the faculty supervisor. Please know that non-consumable equipment MUST be handed over to the RRU Financial Aid & Awards office at the end of the funding period to be used in other research projects.  
Check out this blog on How Student Research Funding Works at RRU that covers most of the financial-related questions. 
Tips and logistics
Confirm intellectual property requirements with RRU. RRU’s Intellectual Property Policy can be found the Office of Research Policies and Procedures webpage
Ensure appropriate insurance coverage, as necessary.
In section 6 of the application, name six suggested reviewers. The academics listed here will be deciding if the application has merit for funding. Strategically it makes sense to choose reviewers who have experience in the relevant field of research and who value applied research.
Here’s how to complete section 7.3.6:To corral signatures from RRU campus, email your final application draft with the signature page to Financial Aid & Awards. The financial aid team will return the signature page by email as quickly as possible for submission. 
An administrative lead from the Financial Aid & Awards team will be assigned once the application is approved. The administrative lead will assist with the application questions and logistics, and develop an award disbursement and financial reporting plan.
Contact Financial Aid & Awards if you have any questions. If we can’t answer them, we’ll find someone who can.
The student submits the complete application to:Nolan Beise PhD Director, Business Development Vancouver IslandCity
C: 250-661-0761 

Excellence in Teamwork

Financial Aid & Awards Blog - November 16, 2018 - 8:26am
Photo by from Pexels. Blog by Barb Collombin Student Team Performance works across Royal Roads, supporting students, faculty and staff in delivering and learning successful teamwork practices. In keeping with the culture of RRU to capture excellence in action, we interviewed a successful team to acknowledge them, and find out what their processes to success were.

Team Dynamite was what they called themselves and “dynamite” was how their instructor, Athena Madden described their work.  Online environments can add to the complexity of teamwork dynamics, but it doesn’t have to. This team, comprised of students from masters programs in Humanitarian Studies, put the effort in to create high performing teamwork.   

The following were the highlights of what Aaron Chamberlain (HSPB), Ambreen Qazi (DEM), Dean Clark (DEM), Robyn Jacobsen (CAM), and Nick Bouchard (DEM), did and discovered:

What did your team do to create a powerful journey of teaming?
  • We spent time developing a comprehensive team agreement  (1.5 hours)
  • We sent it to our instructor to enhance the accountability of the agreement.
  • We committed to a weekly meeting and stuck to it.
  • We maintained efficiency and stress by reducing emails/texts
  • Respectful relationships were key that included an accountability structure
  • We held our  team as highly important, and kept all individuals involved
  • We rotated roles, especially one called “discussion leader” 
  • We prepared for each meeting
  • We built psychological safety through thoughtfulness, and kindness
What was the benefit of having worked in teams here at RRU?

We were grateful for the opportunity to explore diverse ideas with those from a variety of backgrounds

What team skills were enhanced that will prove useful moving forward?
  • Learning about  the power of listening
  • A solid structure to explore all ideas
  • Shared leadership is a powerful process
  • Learning to slow down to bring out the quieter voices in the room to capture their rich ideas
Any recommendations for RRU instructors/staff/team coaches about team learning?
    • Realize when a team is failing and be prepared to help guide the group through it.
    • Instructors should know what options are available for teams in distress
    • Spend time early in the course on team topics like the ‘groan zone’ and strategies for students to move through this
    • Be available to teams in a timely fashion
    • Have team coaches come in and give reminders about team dynamics and planning in the early stages of courses.
    What were key course design elements that supported teamwork?
    • Case study stepped process
    • Check-in schedule
    • Templates to assist with more productive conversations
    For more information or support with teamwork in your RRU class, please visit the Student Team Performance webpage.

    Emotional Support Animals

    Financial Aid & Awards Blog - September 4, 2018 - 1:46pm
    Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

    Pets provide a comforting presence and valuable emotional support for people with a wide range of mental health conditions including PTSD, stress, anxiety, and depression.

    Royal Roads University, as part of the student mental health strategy, aims to create a safe learning environment by allowing consideration for Emotional Support Animals (ESA) provided the animal does not interfere with the safety or learning environment of any other person in the classroom.

     It is very important to recognize that an ESA is not considered the equivalent to a guide or service dog that is specifically trained and certified to help people with a disability avoid hazards or perform tasks. Therapy and emotional support animals are not eligible for certification. All they need to be is an emotional or psychological support (Government of B.C.).

    A student may request consideration to bring their ESA into the classroom through Royal Roads University’s Counselling Services. If the Counsellor supports they request, they will issue a Letter of Consideration to the applicant. This letter would then be presented to the instructor by the applicant for approval.

    The conditions for approval by the instructor will include:
    ·         The ESA must be in full control at all times and their well being cared for.·         The ESA cannot interfere with anybody’s comfort or learning in the classroom, including the applicant, classmates, instructor, and guests. ·         Everyone in the classroom must be given an opportunity to freely express their concerns directly or by email to the instructor at any time. ·         If approval has been given, it may be revoked at any time. The instructor can require the animal to be removed at any time if any of the above conditions are not met (or no longer met).Government of B.C. Guide Dog & Service Dog Certification (retrieved August 28, 2018 from

    How to Thank-You

    Financial Aid & Awards Blog - March 13, 2018 - 2:57pm
    Congratulations! You’ve won an award or bursary. Now, capture that feeling and share it with the donor.

    Think about why you’re excited or feeling relief. This is the real value and purpose of the award. This is why this award exists, and we need your help in growing our awards program so that more students can enjoy that feeling.

    Thanking the donor helps them understand the impact of their donation, which builds or strengthens their relationship with RRU. A good thank-you note pays respect to the time and investment they’ve made. 

    To write a good thank-you now, re-read the award description on the web so that it’s fresh in your mind what’s important to the donor.

    FirstStart the letter with the standard salutation, Dear Mr./Ms./Mrs./Dr. [last name].

    ThenParagraph 1 – Write which award you received and how receiving the news made me feel. How will this funding help you?

    Paragraph 2 – What did you do to earn this award? What interests do you share (from the award description)?

    Paragraph 3 - Describe why you come to RRU and what do you hope to do in the future. Will you help anyone in turn? The ripple effect or mindset of ‘paying it forward’ is so heartening.

    FinallyIt’s appropriate to thank a donor within two weeks of receiving the good news. While it may seem like a small gesture, thank you cards are an important part of maintaining good relationships with donors. They help ensure continued support so that future students can benefit from the RRU awards program, as you have.

    Your thank-you can be in the form of a card or letter, or something else if you’re feeling creative. A personal touch is always nice, like a hand written note in a card or signing your name on a typed letter. Some students have even included photographs of themselves or artwork from their children!

    Thank you for helping us build or strengthen relationships and support future students.

    Scholarships, Awards, and Bursaries: Playing the Game Pays Off

    Financial Aid & Awards Blog - January 12, 2017 - 2:01pm

    Just like the Game of Life, there are two roads to and through RRU: the academic road and the professional road. On the academic road travelers fill their cars/CVs with awards, research experience, publications, and conference presentations. Travelers on the professional road drive along with their cars/resumes loaded with practical life experience.   
    It pays to know which road you're on so that you can strategically target your time and energy on the most appropriate sources of funding to hedge your chances of success.

    Before we begin, it's important to define the terms scholarship, award, bursary, and grant.
    A scholarship is typically a higher valued award used to reward past exceptional experience or to encourage a specific type of learning. It is also used as a term in academia to describe a systematic inquiry and reflection into the teaching and learning process, see the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
    Awards are offered for academic or social merit and may or may not have a financial need component. Just for fun, the term award can be used as a verb to describe the giving of funding, for example, bursaries and scholarships are awarded.
    The primary purpose of bursariesis to address reasonable financial need in order to reduce a financial barrier to education. Reasonable financial need means that unmet need, which is the difference between a student's expenses and resources, can be addressed by the bursary in order to sufficiently remove the financial barrier to continuing education.
    Grants are primarily for faculty researchers and there is an expectation of research deliverables. Students are considered research trainees and funding, therefore, is given in support of research learning. This means that you shouldn’t spend time looking for grants. The Academic RoadThe driver on this road is progressing through post-secondary on a more traditional trajectory: undergraduate > masters > doctoral degree, and then on to post-doctoral study in preparation to becoming an industry researcher or a faculty researcher at a University. 
    Generally, students on this road are stronger candidates for the higher valued scholarships like the SSHRC/NSERC/CIHR Vanier and Canada Graduate Scholarships, and the Trudeau Scholarship, to name the biggies.
    To be competitive, fill your car with academic excellence, awards, research experience, publications, conference presentations, community involvement. The further along the academic road you are, the higher the expectation there will be to see these pegs in your car and, ideally, all of these activities provide experience that supports your future career goal. 
    Academic Excellence: generally the benchmark for academic excellence is a minimum "A-" average. The longer the history of academic success the better. There is some forgiveness for students who show steady improvement to reaching and maintaining academic excellence if their early post-secondary years were a little shaky, particularly if the subject matter isn’t relevant to current studies.
    Awards: winning smaller awards is an asset in competing for research awards like the Canada Graduate Scholarship programs. It shows a candidate who is notable; someone who has been evaluated against peers and found merit-worthy. Undergrad students should be busy building up their awards list!
    Note that while bursaries are often awarded competitively, they shouldn't be listed on a CV because their purpose is to address financial need rather than merit.
    Research Experience: ideally this starts at the undergraduate level and carries on through to graduate and post-graduate study through Research Assistantships. This practical research experience is as valuable as the references you may receive from the faculty researcher. Reference letters are weighed heavily in competition for large scholarships.
    Publications: a few very fortunate students will have an opportunity to co-publish at the master’s level. For major scholarship candidates at the Doctoral level, there is an expectation of growing number of publications as a primary author. Savvy students will recognize the potential to re-jig assignments for publishing in North American journals. Ask your research supervisor for tips on which journals are pertinent to your field of study and how to submit an article.
    Conferences: start by going to them and watching TED Talks to see how things typically work. Then start presenting your own work. Sometimes registration fees are reduced for students and it's worth asking if funding is available to assist presenters with travel. Attending conferences is a valuable networking opportunity. Bask in the opportunity to learn from other conference goers. These people are your future peers and many of them value the opportunity to share their wisdom whether it’s regarding conference subject matter or advice on your career path.  The Professional RoadDrivers on this road are the typical RRU student: mid-career professional who is seeking a promotion, lateral mobility, or a career change, who has been out of post-secondary for a while and doesn’t have a strong research background.  
    Generally these students are well positioned to succeed with a Mitacs Accelerate Internshipbecause they have professional skills and connections. Resourceful students in the past have fully funded a doctoral program with this funding.
    So now that you know which road you’re on, here are some tips on how to navigate your way
    Be Realistic Accept that the average student will need to focus their effort on the smaller awards, $8,000 or less. Anything larger than that is generally reserved for exceptional cases.    Consider applying for awards like a part-time job. With the right approach, it could pay off with a really decent $/hr of effort, particularly for the smaller awards where you can get away with a base template essay and tailor it for each competition.
    Be StrongAccept that you’ll get some “no”s but don’t let it discourage you. Keep applying and seeking advice on how to strengthen your application technique. 
    As Wayne Gretzky says, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take”.
    Be PreparedStart by familiarizing yourself with the Financial Aid & Awards pages on the RRU website. You’ll find information about internal and external awards, and blogs that will answer questions you don’t even know you have yet. You’ll find blog posts on FundingYour RRU Education that provides tips on how to search for external awards, Howto Write an Award Winning Essay, How to Prepare a Canada Graduate ScholarshipMasters Application, and Strategies for Getting a Good Reference Letter (coming soon!).
    Preparing a good application takes time. Think several months for the biggies or several weeks for the smaller valued awards. 
    Be StrategicLook for award opportunities that are plentiful. That is, lots of awards available and few potential applicants, like awards from your bank or professional association. 
    Awards at RRU are the low hanging fruit on the tree, easy to find and therefore pretty competitive, particularly the awards with less specific criteria, so don’t stop looking there.
    Look for awards for which you’d be uniquely qualified. The more obscure the criteria the better because the funder will have a hard time finding a qualified candidate. If you’re somewhat eligible, give them an argument for why you’re the most qualified candidate based on the spirit of the award. There are a limited number of times you can get a good reference from your busy faculty so use this resource wisely. 
    You’ll see community involvement quite frequently in external award competitions, so for smaller awards it’s not a bad idea to get a good reference for community involvement that you can use again and again. Note that RRU doesn’t require references for our internal awards. Also note that this strategy of re-using reference letters isn’t a good one for the larger awards where specific criteria must be addressed in references or where specific forms must be used. 
    Be ThoroughThere’s no point in putting half effort into an application or putting a rush application together. Frankly, it’s stressful to you and likely a waste of your time and the reviewer’s time since you’ll likely not be able to outshine your competition.
    For the major scholarships, consider that your research proposal will be evaluated for viability (e.g. reasonable scope for the time constraints of a degree program, well thought-out research plan, and logistically achievable). It will also be evaluated for rigour. Rigour means that you have a plan to collect sufficient data to be confident in the answer your research question, but, again, mind that the scope remains manageable for the time allotted in your program. Faculty advice on the right approach and balance is so valuable.  
    At the Doctoral level, propose the research as if receiving the scholarship will enhance the learning opportunity. That is, don’t put it across like it’s going to fund the base expectations of the degree. What can you do with the scholarship that you couldn’t otherwise do? 
    Have someone review your application. The larger the award, the more people you should ask to review it. If you’re applying for a research scholarship, ask your Program Head to review your research proposal. 
    Reviewers should look for logical flow of thought (spot the leaping logic!), grammar, spelling, consistency in style (e.g. APA), tangents/unnecessary content, and formatting if there are formatting requirements. These are the things judges watch for and it’s easy to dismiss an application that falls short in one of these areas. Parting wordsStep into the driver’s seat with confidence, respect, and with a plan. Rev your engine and own the road you’re traveling on. Make them believe in you too and it’ll be hard to say no! 

    How Student Research Funding Works at RRU

    Financial Aid & Awards Blog - December 12, 2016 - 11:40am
    Photo credit: Jessica Monte downloaded from
    You’re approved!  Now how do you get the money?This funding guide is intended to assist in the development of a research budget (required for Mitacs Accelerate applicants) and to inform major scholarship or grant recipients how their funding will be handled. 

    General rules you can bank on...
    1. Scholarships are treated differently than grants
    A scholarship is given in support a specific activity, like research learning in the case of Canada Graduate Scholarships, and there are no deliverables required except to maintain active enrollment for the duration of the award period and use the opportunity to its fullest potential. A scholarship is taxable income. If the funding is being managed by RRU, we will issue a T4a for funds disbursed to you for the calendar year by the following February. If RRU does not yet have your SIN on file, please contact the Financial Aid & Awards office. Talk to an income tax professional for advice on potential income tax deductions. A grant is normally awarded to faculty researchers who have a doctoral degree or PhD, with an intended expectation of deliverables. Grants normally pay for travel, equipment, research supplies, and wages for research assistants. Mitacs Accelerate Internship funding is administered like a research grant because an industry problem is being solved and the partner organization is receiving a research deliverable.  Equipment purchased with research grant funding must either be surrendered to RRU, or taxed as a personal benefit to whoever chooses to keep it at the end of the project. The Federal government requires that non-consumable supplies like laptops, voice recorders or cameras purchased with publically-funded research monies are intended for research activities for their lifetime. Educational institutions are responsible for ensuring compliance. You can download the Research Equipment Registry Form from the RRU website. In order to minimize expenses for grant-funded projects, check with RRU to see if we have previously-surrendered equipment for loan.  2. You must be actively enrolled and taking classes during the award period
    All student funding has a period of study start and end. That is, you are expected to be actively engaging as a student doing whatever it is you got the funding for, whether it's research learning or conducting research. The Notice of Award/Funding you receive when your funding is approved makes it clear what the expectations are. Financial Aid & Awards actively monitors enrollment and has an obligation to inform the funder if a recipient no longer meets the eligibility requirements. If you are considering taking a leave of absence for medical or personal reasons, talk to the Financial Aid & Awards team before you make any decisions to find out if there are any repercussions and if there are any options to interrupt or defer your funding.  3. Remain in good financial standing at RRU
    It is very important to note that any tuition and fees due before the research funding arrives at RRU are your responsibility. We have a tuition deferral program if the award disbursement is expected within 60 days of the tuition deadline. Should you choose to participate with a Tuition and Fee Deferral, the amount of tuition and fees deferred will be automatically deducted from your award when it arrives.  RRU cannot approve deferral of tuition and fees for longer than 60 days because of the risk of debt accumulating on your student account. If something unpredictable were to happen, requiring an interruption in your study and you are no longer eligible for the funding, you would owe an unexpected debt to the university. This rule is in place for your protection.  4. Keep your contact information up to date on MyAdmin
    RRU issues student research funding by cheque in regular mail. Please ensure your mailing address is always up to date in MyAdmin. 5. This is how we pay out NSERC/SSHRC/CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarship Masters (CGSM) funding
    This award funds 12 months of masters-level research training. All courses leading up to the research component of a program and the research activity itself are considered training. Award take-up dates are May 1st, September 1st, and January 1st following the competition for funding. RRU normally pays out these awards in two installments: half the award on the take-up date, and the other half six months later.  Students in accelerated programs that have fewer than 12 months of active study after the earliest award take-up date will receive a pro-rated amount of funding.  Recipients are given the option of how they would like to receive the funding. It can be credited to your student account to pay for upcoming tuition and fees, or mailed to you by cheque. It cannot be automatically credited towards textbooks, gift shop purchases, parking fees/fines, library fines, or cafeteria food cards. 6. And this is how we handle Mitacs Accelerate funding
    Mitacs Accelerate funds are technically awarded to the academic supervisor.  A minimum $10,000 for each accelerate "internship" is to be paid to the student conducting the research, and the remaining $5,000 can be used to cover eligible travel and expenses for the student and/or the academic supervisor, or paid out as an additional stipend.  A budget is required as part of the application. If a portion of the funding is designated for travel and expenses, the funding will be issued as a reimbursement.  7. Generally allowable expenses for Mitacs Accelerate and other Grants
    Each granting agency will have its own financial management parameters but generally these are accepted expenses: Hotel Accommodation - Federal grant recipients are expected to travel by the most economic means possible. Don't book the honeymoon suite at a fancy hotel, ok?  Try using your student ID and stating you are traveling for research purposes to see if you can get a government rate. Your Notice of Award might come in handy for proving legitimacy/eligibility. Private Accommodation - When staying at a private accommodation where there is no charge, you are permitted to offer and claim a gift amount of up to $50 per day to your host. A receipt is not required to claim this expense. Meals - The following rates are to be used for meals taken while traveling on research business. This is the per diem rate prescribed by RRU's Finance Department. Per diem rates default to RRU's unless the granting agency provides written permission to increase them.  BREAKFAST LUNCH DINNER INCIDENTALS DAILY TOTAL 10.00 15.00 25.00 5.00 55.00  These reimbursement rates cover meal and other out-of-pocket travel expenses and receipts are not required. Where a meal is provided without charge, no claim for that meal can be made. For example, many conferences offer lunch and build that cost in the registration fee. In situations where meals in a particular location are more expensive than the allowable rates, actual receipts may be submitted. The cost of alcoholic beverages cannot be claimed. When reporting expenses, it is important to note the dates of travel and the time you left and arrived home. For example, if you left home at 2pm, you would be eligible for dinner and incidentals for that day. If you arrived home at 2pm, you would be eligible to claim per diems for breakfast, lunch, and incidentals. Incidentals assume the cost of extra little things you needed to purchase because you were away from home, like if you need to buy ear plugs because you're staying in an airport hotel. No justification for claiming incidentals is required. Transportation- Fares for transportation by air, bus, ferry, rail or taxi may be claimed. The type of carrier and accommodation shall be chosen to effect early completion of the trip. Economy class for air travel shall be used.  Private Vehicle Allowance- For each independent trip, record the kilometers travelled and the date of travel. If a personal vehicle is used for travel, RRU reimburses mileage at a rate of $0.45 per kilometer. For rental cars, mileage is included in the cost of the rental and should not be claimed as a separate expense.  These things are not eligible for reimbursement:Travel Points - DO NOT USE YOUR PERSONAL TRAVEL POINTS to book airfare, accommodations, or car rentals. RRU will not reimburse for points used because they do not have a cash value. Insurance - Any insurance coverage, including trip cancellation insurance, is the responsibility of the traveler Parking or speeding tickets. Cell phone charges – unless you are expecting to be out of the country for an extended period of time, or your research requires a substantial amount of daytime minutes and you do not have an appropriate phone plan as part of your normal day-to-day personal use, you may wish to look into enhancing your existing plan. The extra cost, above your normal plan expenses, may be reimbursable. Unreasonable cell phone charges, like those accrued on an inferior cell phone plan where an enhanced plan could have been put in place, or roaming charges, are definitely not reimbursable. Ask the Financial Aid & Awards office for guidance. 8. How to submit an expense claim
    Mail your original receipts to Financial Aid & Awards and include a simple table to help us complete the Finance Department's expense reimbursement form. We won't subject you to completing the actual expense reimbursement form because it is too complicated with cost centres and account codes. However, we would appreciate a table from you detailing expenses to make it easy for us to complete the form, like these below. Do the best you can and if we have questions, we'll let you know.  Travel and Supplies for In-Person Interviews in Surrey, BC Date Business Name Issuing Receipt Description of Item Amount Before Taxes GST PST Receipt Total 09/27/2016 Safeway 10 food cards for payment to research subjects $200 $0 $0 $200 09/28/2016 BC Ferries Car, driver, and reservation $88.65 $0 $0 $88.65 09/28/2016 Comfort Inn Hotel accommodation $120 $6 $0 $126 09/29/2016 BC Ferries Car, driver, and reservation $88.65 $0 $0 $88.65   PRIVATE Transportation Date Travelled from where to where? Total km traveled 09/28/2016 Home in Victoria to Surrey 37.6 (home to Swartz Bay) + 36.3 (Tsawwassen  to Surrey) = 74.9 09/28/2016 Surrey to home 36.3 (Surrey to Tsawwassen) + 37.6 (Swartz Bay to home) = 74.9   Per Diems 09/28/2016 Departed at 2pm. Dinner and incidentals 09/29/2016 Arrived home 2pm. Breakfast, lunch and incidentals.  

    RRU Joins HigherEdPoints

    Financial Aid & Awards Blog - September 20, 2016 - 9:11am

    Do you collect Aeroplan® Miles or TD points? Now you can use your points to help pay for school!Royal Roads University has joined HigherEdPoints. Through this program students can redeem points to use towards tuition. Family and friends can even donate their points to you. Here’s what your points can give you…62,000 TD Points = $250 tuition credit
    35,000 Aeroplan® Miles = $250 tuition creditPeople can also donate directly to Royal Roads University. These points will go into the Area of Greatest Need Fund, which helps our most vulnerable students through creating emergency bursaries and stocking the shelves of the RRU Food Bank.Redeeming points is simple. Check out for instructions. Royal Roads University is also fundraising for students in need through the Beyond Miles program. Donate as few as 1,000 Aeroplan® Miles to help support Royal Roads students during times of critical financial need.

    Detour Ahead: How Changes to Your Studies Can Affect Funding Eligibility

    Financial Aid & Awards Blog - March 29, 2016 - 10:59am

    When I was a kid my family took a lot of road trips. On these trips it was often the detours that led to the best adventures; a hidden ice cream shop or picnic area, a water park, strange roadside attractions…Like any good road trip, your education may take a detour as well. Some detours are unexpected, yet necessary, like taking time off for health or family reasons. Others are a conscious choice, like taking a break from school for a job or travel opportunity you just can’t pass up. Detours in your education can affect your eligibility for certain funding programs. Here are some important things to know if you’re approaching a potential detour.

    Government Student AssistanceWhen you receive government student aid—loans or grants—you enter into an agreement with the government. Part of this agreement is to remain a student for the study period indicated on your loan application. TIP: Study period dates can be found on your student loan notice of assessment or by logging into your loan accountReducing your course load, changing programs or schools, withdrawing from studies, or taking a leave of absence during a funded study period can affect your eligibility for government student aid.Each lending province handles eligibility changes differently. In BC, for example, any of the above actions may lead to a withdrawal from your student loan study period. A withdrawal will result in the following:
    •  Upcoming loan and grant disbursements will not be issued
    • Student loan repayment grace period will begin on the first day of the month following the withdrawal date. i.e., interest starts collecting on your loan and repayment begins in 6 months
    • StudentAid BC will re-calculate your loan based on the number of weeks you actually attended school
    • Students who withdraw twice during a funded study period will be denied further financial assistance. Students can appeal under exceptional circumstances.
    RRU Awards and Canada Graduate ScholarshipsAs with government assistance, making changes to your study plans can affect your eligibility for RRU awards and federal Canada Graduate Scholarship funding.To remain eligible for an RRU Entranceor In-Course award you must be actively enrolled—that is, actually taking courses—in an RRU program for three months following the award uptake date, except if you are graduating. For Entrance Awards, the award uptake date is your first day of class. For In-Course Awards, it’s the first day of the month following the award deadline.To remain eligible for Canada Graduate Scholarship funding (SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR) you must be actively enrolled in an RRU program for the 12-month award period.Withdrawing or taking a leave of absence during an award period may result in one of the following:
    • If you are eligible for a tuition refund, the award will be deducted from the refund amount.
    • In certain cases we may re-calculate the award based on the date you withdrew/went on leave and request repayment of the remainder.
    What to do if you need to take a detour?Whether by choice or necessity, detours happen. Depending on your situation there are a number of people you may need to talk to if you’re making changes to your study plans, including your program associate, Student Accounts, Accessibility Services, your family, or employer.If you have a government student loan, an RRU award, or a Canada Graduate Scholarship, you also need to contact Financial Aid & Awards. Upon request, we will look at your situation and let you know what to expect.Other FundingOther funding programs, like bank loans and awards outside of RRU and the Canada Graduate Scholarship program, may have their own procedures for when students make changes. You may want to contact that funder directly for instructions before making any decisions.

    Solving the Mystery of Full time Student Loan Eligibility in BC

    Financial Aid & Awards Blog - February 12, 2016 - 10:59am
        Image: INTVGene

    Maintaining program eligibility for full-time student loans shouldn't be a mystery. If your target student population is relying on student loans to fund their education, these are the important factors of program eligibility worth considering before making major changes and potentially losing that funding source.  
    BC is RRU’s home province so we are primarily concerned with meeting StudentAid BC’s program eligibility requirements. While every provincial ministry responsible for student loans must follow some basic Canada Student Loan program regulations, each has the authority to set additional criteria. For out-of-province residents, eligibility is often defaulted to the home province’s designation.
    We've sleuthed out these relevant regulations from the 2015-16 StudentAid BC Policy Manual (mostly paraphrased). You can retrieve the full manual here
    1.         The program of studies must be offered and delivered at 100 percent of a full course load. For student loan purposes at RRU it is:
    • for undergraduate programs      3.75 credits per month
    • for graduate programs               1.83 credits per month

    A 60-credit undergrad program can be delivered in 16 months and still retain 100% course load status.

    2.         If there is a program offered at 100 percent of a full course load, a student may choose reduce their course load to at least 60 percent (40 percent for students with permanent disabilities) and retain full time status. This brings certain blended programs into the realm of eligibility. 60 percent at RRU is a minimum of:
    • for undergraduate programs      2.25 credits per month
    • for graduate programs              1.098 credits per month

    3.       Distance education, blended learning or online programs may be eligible for student financial assistance if students will earn the same number of academic credits in the same time period as students in other StudentAid BC-eligible programs delivered onsite at the same institution for each level of degree (i.e. certificate, undergrad, graduate, doctoral).
    4.         Breaks in full-time study are permitted as long as the combined break time does not exceed 10 percent of the total study period for the program. No break can be longer than two consecutive weeks, with the exception of the calendar year-end break, which can be up to three weeks in length.
    5.         The following programs are not eligible for StudentAid BC funding:
    • Programs of study such as executive programs that are designed specifically to meet the needs of full-time members of the labour force (e.g. RRU's MBA program).
    • Brokered courses (when an institution provides a formal credential while another agency/institution provides the actual program of study) 
    • Personal development, hobby, self-interest or similar programs (e.g. non-credit Continuing Studies courses)

    Each spring, the Financial Aid team reviews student loan eligibility for RRU's programs. When it meets the above criteria we report eligibility to StudentAid BC on behalf of RRU. Along with this certification of eligibility, we submit a list of suitable study periods to the government with tuition, fee, and book costs. We're permitted teeny tiny program changes like shifting the program start date few days forward or backward but that's pretty well it before we must report changes in eligibility.
    Ultimate message: Check with Financial Aid & Awards before making big program changes please. Otherwise we have Mystery Inc. on retainer to help us discover whodoneit.

    2016 Career Development Day

    Financial Aid & Awards Blog - February 3, 2016 - 8:47am

    Here at the RRU Financial Aid & Awards Blog we’re all about financial planning. Making a good income is, of course, a big part of any financial plan, which is why we’re excited to announce RRU’s annual Career Development Day.

    Students are invited to attend this daylong event on Wednesday February 10, 2016 at Royal Roads University. The day will include presentations, panel discussions, a career fair with over 30 employers, and plenty of networking opportunities.

    This year RRU is excited to partner with Riipen to run the TOP TALENT CHALLENGE. Show your skills to potential employers by submitting solutions to business mini-challenges. Head to the Riipen website prior to February 10th for details.RRU Foodbank Fundraiser at Career Development Day
    During Career Development Day, Student Services will be collecting donations for the RRU Foodbank from 1 -4p.m in the lobby of the Grant building. Bring your non-perishable food donation to be eligible to win great prizes. Forget your donation? Buy a donation can for a buck and receive an entry into the prize draw. The more you bring or buy, the better your chances to win! Prizes include a $100 Thrifty Foods gift card, Habitat Cards, RRU swag, and more!
    Career Development Day Schedule
    8:45 - 9:20                            Student Coffee Sponsored by RRU Student Association        9:25 - 9:30                            Acknowledgements of Traditional Land                  9:30 - 9:45                            Student Welcome                                                                         9:45 - 10:30                          Alumnus Keynote Speaker                                                           10:30 - 12:00                       Human Resources Panel                                       12:45 – 1:30                         Finance & Banking Information Panel
    11:30 - 1:00                          Booth Set-up and Employer and Networking Lunch
    1:00 - 4:00                            Career Networking Booths                            Check out the Student Services Facebook page for more details and updates. 

    Doctoral Research Scholarships

    Financial Aid & Awards Blog - January 21, 2016 - 11:45am

    RRU's Financial Aid & Award team has targeted these major Doctoral research scholarships for which we will provide application and administrative support.  There are lots of other scholarships out there and you can find them through following tips in this blog. Please contact those agencies directly with any questions. They’re the experts regarding their funding program.
    To be competitive for many of the major doctoral scholarships you’ll need an already established history in the field of research you’re planning to conduct, whether as a researcher or a professional, and have a reasonable list of publications in your name in that subject area – publications are a MUST in my opinion. Having presented at conferences would be an asset. 
    Personally speaking, I’m a big fan of Mitacs because of its high success rate. The next most reasonable competition is the SSHRC Doctoral Awards, described below, for research related to social science or humanities. If you’re not researching the social sciences, consider NSERC for natural science, or CIHR for any health-related research.
    Before you start your program, please check out RRU’s Entrance Awardsfor some Doctor of Social Science-specific opportunities. After your first day of class you can start to participate in our In-Course Award competitions. You may find our blog about applying for awards as an interdisciplinary student helpful.
    SSHRC Vanier Canada Graduate ScholarshipThe Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships (Vanier CGS) program is designed to attract and retain world-class doctoral students by offering them a significant financial award to assist them during their studies at Canadian universities. This program provides 500 Canadian and international doctoral students each year with highly prestigious scholarships valued at $50,000 per year for three years.
    RRU is able to submit one application every three years to the national competition for funding through the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.
    Vanier scholars are doctoral students of the highest calibre who demonstrate:
    • academic excellence(all “A”s or nearly so in all past post-secondary study)
    • research potential(determined through presenting a strong research proposal, has past publications, received other awards and honours, conference presentations, etc.)
    • leadership(personal achievement, involvement in academic life, relevant community involvement, civic engagement, etc)
    The next earliest opportunity to nominate a candidate is November. If the 3-year allocation hasn't yet been used, students enrolled in RRU's Doctoral program will be emailed a "Call for Applications" in the spring. This will be a short-form competition to seek a potential Vanier Scholar. If a candidate who fulfills the Vanier description above is found, we will assist him or her through the full application process.
    Application deadline: a short-form competition will be run in the spring. One student may be invited to complete the full application by November.

    SSHRC Doctoral AwardsThe SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships and Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS) Doctoral Scholarships aim to develop research skills and assist in the training of highly qualified personnel by supporting students who demonstrate a high standard of scholarly achievement in undergraduate and graduate studies in the social sciences and humanities. Applicants apply for both awards by completing one application form. The top tier of Doctoral Fellowship recipients get upgraded to the CGS award. 
    Some CGS recipients may be considered for the honour of having their scholarship named a “Canada Graduate Scholarship to Honour Nelson Mandela,” should SSHRC deem their application to be aligned with at least one of five themes championed by Mandela: national unity; democracy; freedom and human rights; leadership; children’s participation in society; and children’s health. They do a key word search in application titles to assign this extra honour.
    RRU is able to submit three applications to SSHRC to compete nationally for renewable awards valued up to $35,000/year, renewable for up to three years.  I don’t yet know how many awards are available Canada-wide, but ask me late September if it’s important to you.
    Visit the SSHRC Doctoral Awards program information page to view the funding program description, eligibility requirements and the application form Check out our website for RRU-specific instructions on how to submit your application 
    Application deadline: annually on December 1st Please note that the SSHRC website lists January as the University deadline. That is the deadline for RRU to submit the three nominees to SSHRC. We must first hold an internal competition to select our nominees.

    NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships-Doctoral Program and NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships-Doctoral ProgramThe Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships-Doctoral Program (CGS D) and NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships-Doctoral Program (PGS D) provide financial support to high caliber scholars who are engaged in a doctoral program in the natural sciences or engineering. The CGS D will be offered to the top-ranked applicants and the next tier of meritorious applicants will be offered an NSERC PGS D.
    RRU is able to submit applications to NSERC to compete nationally for renewable awards valued up to $35,000/year for up to three years.
    Visit the NSERC program information page to view the funding program description, eligibility requirements and the application form  Check out our website for RRU-specific instructions on how to submit your application 
    Application deadline: early November each year

    CIHR Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarships Doctoral Awards (CGS-D) The program provides special recognition and support to students who are pursuing a doctoral degree in a health-related field in Canada.
    RRU is able to submit applications to CIHR to compete nationally for renewable awards valued up to $35,000/year for up to three years.
    Visit the CIHR Doctoral Research Award page linked in this page 
    Application deadline: early SeptemberPlease note that the CIHR website lists October 1st as the deadline. That is the deadline for RRU to submit the application to CIHR. We must review and approve the application in September.

    Mitacs AccelerateMitacs-Accelerate is a graduate research internship program which connects graduate students and post-docs in any discipline at Canadian Universities with companies through short- to medium-term research projects which address a company need. During a Mitacs-Accelerate internship, the intern spends approximately half of his or her time onsite with the company, collecting data and interacting with staff; the balance of time is spent at the university, developing innovative approaches to solving the research challenge in collaboration with faculty and fellow students.
    The program provides grad students and postdocs with the unique opportunity to apply their research to an issue faced by a company while making vital connections with industry. Faculty members benefit also from the program as it can be a stepping stone to establishing a greater collaboration with a private sector partner.
    For each four-month internship, the company contributes $7,500 which is matched by Mitacs through the support of the Networks of Centres of Excellence’s Industrial R&D Internship Program and the BC Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation. Of the $15,000, the intern receives a minimum $10,000 stipend with the remaining $5,000 supporting other costs associated with the research project.
    For more information about the Mitacs-Accelerate program, watch this video, visit, or contact Nolan Beise, Mitacs Business Development Specialist.

    McKenzie King Open ScholarshipThe Open Scholarship is available to graduates of Canadian universities who pursue graduate study in any discipline, in Canada or elsewhere. The awards will be based on high academic achievements (typically all A’s or very nearly so), personal qualities, and demonstrated aptitudes. Consideration will also be given to the applicant’s proposed program of study.
    RRU is able to submit two applications to the McKenzie King Scholarship Selection Committee for consideration. One Open Scholarship is awarded each year and the value has recently been about $8,500 but it is subject to change.
    Visit the McKenzie King Scholarship website for complete information and to find the application 
    Application deadline: annually on February 1st

    Trudeau ScholarshipEach year, the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation rewards outstanding doctoral candidates who are enrolled or about to be enrolled in a social sciences and humanities program and who are doing research in areas related to our four themes. This award, the most prestigious of its type in Canada, has continuously attracted the very best scholars in the social sciences and humanities, individuals with a passion for public engagement and who are likely to become leading national and international figures.
    RRU is able to submit up to eight applications to the national competition for renewable awards valued up to $60,000/year for up to four years. Success rate is around 6%.
    Visit the Trudeau Scholarship program information page to view the funding program description, eligibility requirements and the application form. Check out our website for RRU-specific instructions on how to submit your application.
    Application deadline: mid-NovemberPlease note that the deadlines listed in the Trudeau Scholarship application are for when the nominations are due to them (i.e. RRU’s deadline to nominate). We must first hold an internal competition to select our nominees.

    Canada-BC Job Grant Reopens for 2016

    Financial Aid & Awards Blog - January 12, 2016 - 11:37am
    The Canada-BC Job Grant (CJG) is a cost-sharing program that can help employers off-set the costs of training current or future employees. The CJG will cover up to two-thirds of the cost of training an employee—to a maximum of $10,000—and the employer is expected to cover the remaining third.
    The CJG has reopened for 2016 and is now accepting applications from a number of target groups. As a student or employer you may want to know whether RRU programs are eligible for funding through the Canada-BC Job Grant program. The simple answer is yes. All BC public post-secondary institutions are considered eligible training providers, which includes RRU. However, there are a number of other criteria that must be met in order to qualify for CJG funding. Review the CJG website carefully, especially the eligibility criteria document, and discuss this grant with your employer/employee to determine if it’s the right fit.
    Links: More information on the Canada-BC Job Grant can be found on the WorkBC website.
    Canada-BC Job Grant Eligibility Criteria document

    RRU Food Bank Moved to the Recreation Centre

    Financial Aid & Awards Blog - September 23, 2015 - 9:57am

    The Food Bank is a Student Services initiative that serves our most vulnerable students on campus. Students may visit the Food Bank as often as needed, no questions asked, and may take as much food as they like (within reason).
    The Food Bank is not meant to replace a forgotten lunch or fully feed a student for the school year, but aims to help out during short-term times of need. For longer-term assistance, a list of local food banks and meal programs can be found here.               
    The Food Bank is physically located in the RRU Recreation Centre and may be accessed anytime during operating hours. Ask staff at the reception counter to borrow the key.
    Operating hours:Monday to Friday: 5:30 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
    Saturday: 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
    Sunday: 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
    Statutory Holidays: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
    Students leaving residency donate the primary supply of non-perishable food to the Food Bank. Food is collected via bins located in residency lounges by our custodial staff and delivered to the Recreation Centre. Several times a year, depending on demand and funding available, Financial Aid & Awards staff will stock the shelves with food purchased at Costco and other wholesale shops. 
    Donations of non-perishable food or cash for the Financial Aid & Awards shopping trip are gratefully accepted at the Library or Recreation Centre.
    Please contact the Student Services Financial Aid & Awards team with any questions or comments.

    Dear RRU Faculty, Can I have a Hand with CGSM Scholarships?

    Financial Aid & Awards Blog - September 3, 2015 - 3:21pm

    Can you help me find excellent students and support them in their application for the $17,500 Canada Graduate Scholarship Masters (SSHRC/NSERC/CIHR)?

    As faculty you know your students and you care about their learning opportunities. I would be grateful if when you find a student early in the program that exhibits skills as a promising researcher that you send him or her my way. I’d love to determine GPA eligibility to start, and then work with him/her early in the competition to put together a strong application for this research training funding.
    Via the following Q and A, I hope to dispel some myths and create awareness of this incredible funding opportunity to find out best, brightest, and most deserving candidates at Royal Roads University.
    Q. Are the students tied to conducting the project for which they received funding?A. No.  These are research training awards and students are selected for the awards based on these factors: academic excellence, research potential, and personal characteristics. Students show research potential through how they present a research plan in their 1-page Outline of Proposed Research. Practically none of our students have reached the research planning point in their program when they apply for this scholarship so I advise they describe a project that interests them and then I give a very basic introduction into how to write a proposal.
    The project will change as they progress in their program and that’s okay as long as students who receive SSHRC funding do a social science or humanities project, NSERC recipients conduct natural science or engineering research, and CIHR recipients do research in the field of health studies and that it’s a project that meets the expectations of a major grant recipient and the academic program’s requirements.
    The difficulty comes in when faculty member know that the project proposed for the CGSM application isn’t in line with the program requirements and the student asks for a reference. How do you provide appropriate support knowing that you want students to succeed with this grant but the project isn’t going to fly? There’s plenty you can evaluate about the student’s research potential from the Outline of Proposed Research. The selection criteria section of this webpage lists the qualities for evaluation (e.g. logical flow of thought, ability to think critically, leadership potential, other characteristics that show promise of a good researcher like ability to communicate effectively, manage time, understand appropriate scope, etc).
    I strongly encourage students to have at least one RRU faculty member as a referee who can comment on the research learning experience at RRU. Ideally this reference will connect the student and his or her research goals to the program.
    Q. What does it mean to be a referee?If you agree to be a referee, you are committing to only providing an assessment on the student’s qualifications for the scholarship. That's where your obligation ends.
    Once the student enters your name and email address into his/her application, you will receive an email with a link to the Reference Assessment Form.  Here are the Instructions for Completing the Reference Assessment Form.

    There's also a short video on the process Canada Graduate Scholarships Master’s Instructions for Completing the Reference Assessment Form  While it’s not required, it would be nice if you could provide some feedback on the student’s one page Outline of Proposed Research. Even if the proposed project isn’t in line with the program’s requirements there’s a lot you can assess. For example, logical flow of thought, scope appropriate for a master’s program, or appropriateness of the method and theoretical framework.
    There is a world of difference between a CGSM proposal and a research proposal prepared for the program. Since none of our students have had formal research proposal training, I provide only basic instruction on how to write a proposal and provide examples, but I try not to drive up competitiveness by being too critical with feedback. You are welcome to take it up a step, though, if you want your students to have a competitive edge!
    Q. Are only thesis students eligible to apply?A. No. As long as a student is conducting some sort of research training activity (s)he may apply (i.e. gathering data, interpreting it, and producing a written piece that may contribute to knowledge in the research community). Granted, it’s easier for a thesis student to rise to the top of the pile for research learning opportunity, but I’ve seen many competitive applications from students doing research projects, field practice, or OMPs.
    Q. Is there an opportunity to give School-specific instructions to our students who are thinking of applying for this funding?A. Yes. I send out a Call for Applications every fall to Program Associates, requesting they forward it to eligible cohorts. Your School is more than welcome to add instructions in the forwarded message.  I would like an opportunity to review the instructions, however, to identify anything that might conflict with the scholarship policies or procedures.
    Q. How can we better prepare new students for this [really awesome] scholarship opportunity?A. I started with a step-by-step blog for students and will add a video or something of my canned Federal grant presentation that I normally give to students in first residency as pre-residency introduction. It would be nice to have students’ attention before they’re engaged in the program content and get them asking you better questions while they’re on campus for first residency.  
    Q. How competitive are our students for CGSM awards compared to other schools?A. I think our students are amazingly competitive but that doesn’t matter. We are allocated a certain number of awards and we decide who gets them.  Mary Bernard chairs two TriCouncil nomination selection committees: one for SSHRC/CIHR, the other for NSERC applications. The membership of the committee is listed here.
    Tips from me and other faculty:

    1.       It’s ok to set deadlines for reference requests. If it’s a last minute request because of poor planning by the applicant, you can say no.2.       Please complete your reference well before the December 1st deadline. A student cannot submit his/her application without complete references. 3.       Write your reference in Word first and then do a character count (2000 characters max) and copy and paste into the electronic form. The electronic form has a security feature that refreshes every 20 minutes. If you are working directly in the form and haven't saved, it will delete your text.4.       For the question “how long have you known the student”, please enter the number of years and months. Enter “0” in either field rather than leaving it blank.
          Thank you for your support in finding the best students for these awards and please let me know if there are any other questions you have so that I can address them in the next update of this blog.

    Gwen Campden MAPC, Manager, Financial Aid & AwardsStudent Services | Royal Roads UniversityT 250.391.2502 | F 250.391.2670 | gwen.campden@royalroads.ca2005 Sooke Road, Victoria, BC  Canada  V9B 5Y2 |

    Crowdfunding Your Education

    Financial Aid & Awards Blog - July 14, 2015 - 4:01pm

    Photo attribution Robert S. Donovan In the past few years I’ve heard a growing number of stories on the news and anecdotally of students using crowdfunding to pay for their education. As someone who works in financial aid I’m always interested in new funding opportunities, so this post was my chance to do some research and share what I found with you.
    (Disclaimer: I’m not a crowdfunding expert, but I do think it’s a cool idea. If you want to try crowdfunding I encourage you to do your own research and find out if it’s right for you. Hopefully this post will help you get started.) The Basics: A Google search for crowdfunding comes up with this definition: “The practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.” The idea of collecting small donations or investments from a large group of people is nothing new. However, the internet and social media allow fund raisers to connect with potential funders relatively quickly with the hopes of gaining greater traction through social sharing.

    Case Studies:
    It’s not hard to find a news story about a student who ran a wildly successful crowdfunding campaign. Take Toni Morgan, a 32-year-old Toronto woman who raised $50k overnight to attend Harvard. (Her current total is just over $95K.)

    A more modest example is Alexis-Brianna Felix, an undergrad at Boston University who raised funds to pay for her upcoming semester. While her goal was smaller—$5,000—she’s managed to nearly double it through her campaign.
    I expect stories like these two are the exception, not the norm, but it’s encouraging to know that it can be done.
    Starting a Campaign:
    Starting a campaign is relatively easy and can be broken into these steps:

    Find a platform to host your campaign. Pay attention to fee structures. Most platforms will deduct a platform fee from every donation you receive, plus a third-party processor will deduct a transaction fee. Indiegogo Life is the only platform I’ve found that doesn’t charge a platform fee, however you still pay the transaction fee.
    Tell your story. A compelling story is what makes people want to donate to your campaign. Use text, photos or a video to give your initial pitch, then update your audience throughout the campaign.
    Share with your network. Typically your friends and family will be your biggest supporters, but if your campaign takes off you might get donations from people you don’t know too. Email and social media are the most common platforms to promote your campaign and sending personalized messages tends to yield more donations.
    Collect your money. Different platforms handle this differently, but in general your funds will be released to you via bank deposit at the end the campaign or at another specified time (e.g., some platforms allow you to withdraw funds during the campaign).
    My final thought is this…aside from being an alternative to the traditional ways to pay for school (student loans, banks loans, awards); crowdfunding could also improve your chances of succeeding in your studies academically. Think of it this way: if your friends, family and maybe even people you’ve never met before have invested in your dream, will you feel a greater accountability to succeed? Are you more likely to stay home on a Friday night and study or put in that extra bit of effort to earn bonus points on your next assignment? There’s no research on this as far as I know (a project for one of our social science students perhaps?), but its food for thought.
    There are a tonne of resources available to help you start a crowdfunding campaign. Here are some that I found helpful.

    Check out the National CrowdfundingAssociation of Canada for resources, training tools, news and research on crowdfunding

    The two crowdfunding platforms I looked at the most when researching this post were Indiegogo Life and GoFundMe. Check out the "Education" category for examples of student's campaigns.  
    This post has a list of different crowdfunding sites that have been used for funding post-secondary education. (Note that some of the sites are just for schools within the U.S.)

    Money saving tips for students, from students. (Ramen need not apply)

    Financial Aid & Awards Blog - April 22, 2015 - 11:17am

    Anyone who’s taken post-secondary education knows that the life of a student involves some sacrifice. School is expensive and taking out loans means you’ll likely be paying for your education for many years after your program finishes. Saving money and cutting back, even a few bucks at a time, will makes life easier while you’re in school and reduce future debt.

    We asked RRU students for their most creative and savvy money saving tips.
    Check them out to see what ideas might work for you and leave your own tips in the comments box.

    Books and Supplies:Buy used books on Amazon. Ask your instructor if you really need the latest edition. You can usually save a lot by buying textbooks that are even one or two editions old.

    Recoup some money by reselling your textbooks to students in an incoming cohort or through Amazon Marketplace.

    Buy eBooks, which are cheaper, or borrow a hardcopy from the library. If you’re not physically on-campus, contact post-secondary institutions in your area and ask if they are open to the public.

    Get a student discount on computers and software. RRU students are eligible for discounts through the UVIC computer store and other retailers.

    Food:Bring your own tea bag/coffee grounds to school and get a free cup of hot water from Habitat Café.

    DO. NOT. EAT. OUT. Pack your own lunches and cook meals at home. Make in advance and freeze single serving meals like chili and soup. Invite friends over for potlucks and game nights at home rather than dinner out and drinks at the bar.

    Make a weekly grocery store run, rather than daily stops, so that you have to plan your meals and buy in bulk.

    Find an inexpensive bread maker at a pawnshop or on Kijiji, and make your own bread!

    Transportation:Carpool or take the bus.

    Ride your bike. (Combine your daily exercise with your commute. Bonus!)

    Trade in your car for a scooter and save on gas.

    Banking and Taxes:Before you start your program meet with an advisor at your bank to discuss a financial plan.

    Switch to a no fees bank account, or ask your bank about student rates.

    If you’re a parent see if your province of residence has a program to assist with the cost of childcare. For example, as of the writing of this blog post the BC government offers a monthly childcare subsidy to eligible BC families.

    Do your taxes yourself. Many tax software programs have free or discounted versions for students.

    Other ways to save:Ask your cable/internet/phone provider about student plans. Or better yet, cancel cable altogether because, let’s face it, you’re not going to have time to watch TV!

    Let go of your expensive gym membership. Use the RRU rec centre, look for student discounts at community rec centres, or get some free weights at the thrift store and do your workouts at home.

    Work part-time (or full-time) if it’s manageable. If you’re in a condensed program, look for seasonal work over the Christmas holidays or reading break.

    Study at the beach and call it a vacation!

    The RRU Awards Adjudication Process

    Financial Aid & Awards Blog - March 17, 2015 - 2:30pm
    So Who Makes Award Decisions Anyway? When you submit an awards application at RRU do you wonder who sees it and makes the tough decisions?  For proactive disclosure, transparency, and a little bit of professional pride, we’d like to tell you how awards work behind the scenes. The awards adjudication process at RRU strives to reward the most eligible students with the most appropriate awards, based on the information provided in an application and eligibility rules put forth by the funder. 
    And this is how it works!
    From the time a competition closes to the time winners are selected and all the administrative tasks are complete, it takes about a month; perhaps a little longer for externally funded awards like the Federal grants.
    1.      Applications are screened for eligibility by Financial Aid & Awards staff. We remove extra pages and filter out ineligible applications. 
    2.      Qualified applications are forwarded to the appropriate nomination selection panel who independently review and rank candidates. They review each application form for each award and select their first, second, and third favourite.
    3.      Individual rankings are submitted to Financial Aid & Awards who assigns a score where each first favourite candidate gets a score of 3, second gets a 2, and third place gets a 1. Scores are tallied.
    4.      The panel meets as a group to review the cumulative high-score candidates and then finalize nominations through consensus agreement. In rare situations where the committee cannot come to an agreement, the top applications are sent to the alternate committee for decision.
    5.      Nominations for RRU-funded awards are forwarded to the Awards Committee for final approval.
    6.      Congratulations and regrets emails are sent to applicants.
    7.      Certificates with letters for Award recipients are mailed (note: Bursary recipients will not receive a certificate and official letter because addressing financial need is a private matter).
    8.      Funding is credited to successful applicants’ accounts to pay for upcoming tuition fees.
    It is important to note that…
    Late applications are never accepted out of fairness to other candidates and respect for our administrative time/process.
    While the Financial Aid & Awards team drives every step of administration, we do not hold voting rights to ensure the university maintains an impartial process. There is no limit to the number of awards one student may receive; however, if there are two front-runners in a competition, the panel may choose to “spread the love” and nominate the candidate who hasn’t yet received an award.
    Candidates may be screened out for having excessive financial need. For example, a candidate showing more than $10,000 in financial need may be removed from a competition offering a $500 bursary. The chances of that student "making it" is slim with a $500 bursary. That same candidate will not be removed from a bursary competition for $7,000.
    Panel members seriously respect confidentiality.
    The who’s who of RRU awards…
    There are a number of staff and faculty from a variety of departments involved in the awarding of awards at RRU. The Awards Committee, a sub-committee of Academic Council, oversees the design of the awards programs, provides input into the creation of new awards, and officially approves award nominations for RRUs awards. There are four members: two appointed by the Chair of Academic Council, of whom a minimum of one will be a faculty member on Academic Council, plus the Manager Financial Aid & Awards, and the Vice President, Communications and Advancement. The Chair is selected from its membership by the committee.
    • Rebecca Wilson-Mah, Assistant Professor, School of Tourism and Hospitality Management
    • Lynn Gregg, Associate Registrar and Manager, Office of the Registrar
    • Katharine Harrold, Vice President, Communications and Advancement (non-voting)
    • Gwen Campden, Manager Financial Aid & Awards (non-voting Chair)
    The Awards Adjudication Panelreports to the Awards Committee and is responsible for selecting Entrance and In-Course award recipients. The panel consists of eight members: a faculty and staff member from each Faculty, a student member (1-year renewable appointment), and the head of the Financial Aid & Awards unit (non-voting chair). The primary members and alternates are:
    • FOM faculty: Carolin Rekar Munro, Faculty, School of Business
    • FOM faculty alternate: Robert Mittelman, Faculty, School of Business
    • FOM staff: Gwen Ingenthron, Program Associate, MGM
    • FOM staff alternate: Kirsten Amadu, Program Associate, BBA
    • FSAS faculty: Tamara Leary, Associate Professor, School of Education and Technology
    • FSAS faculty alternate: Marni Jull, Faculty, School of Humanitarian Studies
    • FSAS staff: Heather Wanke, Program Coordinator, School of Environment and Management
    • FSAS staff alternate: Jacky Raby, School Manager, School of Leadership Studies 
    • FSAS staff alternate: Alyssa Barthel, Program Associate, School of Humanitarian Studies
    • CIS faculty: Shelley Jones, Program Head, Year 1 
    • CIS faculty alternate: Bernard Schissel, Professor, College of Interdisciplinary Studies
    • CIS staff: Cindy Brar, Administrative Manager
    • CIS staff alternate: Krissy Yang, Program Coordinator
    • CIS staff alternate: Carole Sandhu, Program Coordinator
    • Student member: Nicki Reich, BAPC
    • Manager Financial Aid & Awards: Gwen Campden (non-voting Chair)
    The Internship Awards Adjudication Panel reports to the Awards Committee and selects recipients for internship related awards. Members are:
    • FOM faculty: Terry Power, Faculty, School of Business
    • FSAS faculty: Geo Takach, Faculty, School of Communication and Culture
    • CIS faculty: matt heinz, Dean, College of Interdisciplinary Studies
    • Manager Work Integrated Learning, Natasha Dilay (non-voting, ex-officio Chair)
    • Advancement Coordinator, Amy Hinrichs (non-voting, ex-officio member for RBC Community Integrated Learning Grants)
    Rachel and Ernest Fox Loan Committee members are:
    • Director of Student Services: Kyla McLeod
    • Director of Finance: Nicola Oldfield
    • Tie Breaker/Appeals: Ad hoc and agreed upon by above Directors
    The Eric C. Douglass Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies Scholarship Committee members are:
    • FOM Dean or designate: Bill Holmes
    • Director of Eric C. Douglass Centre: Geoff Archer
    • School of Business faculty: Ad hoc, lately Robert Mittelman
    • Student: Ad hoc
    Emergency Funding is adjudicated on an as-needed basis. Panel members are:
    • Manager, Financial Aid & Awards: Gwen Campden
    • Relevant manager or higher ranking staff or faculty member: Ad hoc, depending on applicant's situation
    • Tie Breaker/Appeals:Ad hoc and agreed upon by above Managers
    These panels select nominees for major National research grant competitions and report through the Office of Research Services:Natural Science and Engineering Scholarships
    • Mary Bernard (chair), Associate Vice-President Research & Faculty Affairs
    • Rick Kool, Associate Professor, School of Environment and Sustainability
    • Mickie Noble, Assistant Professor, School of Environment and Sustainability
    • Manager Financial Aid & Awards: Gwen Campden (non-voting member)
    Social Science, Humanities, and Health Scholarships
    • Mary Bernard (chair), Associate Vice-President Research & Faculty Affairs
    • Ann Dale, Professor, Trudeau Fellow & Canada Research Chair, School of Environment and Sustainability
    • Carolin Rekar Munro, Faculty, School of Business
    • Manager Financial Aid & Awards: Gwen Campden (non-voting member)

    Funding Differences for On-Campus and Blended Programs

    Financial Aid & Awards Blog - February 6, 2015 - 1:22pm

    Many programs at RRU are offered in both an on-campus and blended format. There are advantages to both models and students may choose one over the other for a number of reasons.

    If you’re debating between on-campus or blended, here are three factors worth considering: tuition payments, student loan funding, and award opportunities.

    First, a quick overview of what on-campus and blended mean, then let’s take a look at how these factors can vary between the two program models.

    On-campus programs are typically two academic years condensed into a 12-month format. Generally students who are not working and wish to finish their program quickly choose this option. Students take multiple courses at once (usually 4 or 5) and the majority of courses are held on-campus at Royal Roads University.

    Blended programs are designed for students with other life commitments like careers and/or families. These programs are delivered primarily online over an 18- or 24-month period and include short on-campus residencies held at the beginning of each program year. Students take fewer courses at a time (often between 1 and 3).

    Tuition Payments
    Tuition for each program delivery type is the same. This means students in the on-campus version will pay the same amount of tuition over a shorter period than blended students. While on-campus students have fewer installments to pay overall, each one is relatively higher.

    Check out the tuition payment schedule page to get a better sense of how payments differ between blended and on-campus. 

    Government Student Loans
    Many programs that have an on-campus and blended delivery model are eligible for full-time government student loan funding. The amount of funding for which you may qualify is determined by your resources minus your expenses for a specific period of time.

    It is very important to check that your program is eligible for loans early in your educational planning. Also, be aware that there is a weekly maximum for government funding and it varies between provinces. Contact RRU’s Financial Aid & Awards office to verify program eligibility, and then check out your province’s website for loan limits.

    Knowing there’s a weekly maximum logically means that blended students, who are in school twice as long as on-campus students, may qualify for much more funding. Depending on how you look at it this could be a good thing or a not so good thing; twice the loan also means twice the debt but it might be necessary for affordability.

    Speaking of debt, it’s interesting to note here that RRU’s repayment rates are among the best in the country, which infers that an RRU education is a good investment!

    Award Opportunities
    RRU runs in-course award competitions four times a year with competition deadlines that fall on the 1st of February, May, August, and November.

    Students who are actively studying on the deadline date may apply. This means that blended students have more award opportunities over an on-campus student.

    In Summary
    For students who think they may struggle financially, the blended model is a nice option because it allows you to work full-time while going to school, thus earning money to put towards tuition and living. Blended students may also access more in government student funding, apply for more awards and have smaller tuition installments.

    On-campus students have the advantage of finishing their program in one year, allowing them to get out into the full-time workforce faster. This is an excellent option if you have the financial means to do so.

    And a final thought…
    Regardless of which model you choose the more money you can save before starting school means the less money you have to borrow and eventually repay with interest.


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