why are students penalized for attending part-time?

Canada has something called the "Lifelong Learning Plan," which allows you to use money from RRSPs for tuition without tax penalties. Only full-time students are eligible.

I recently learned that the Friends of the Mississauga Library System make an annual award to four Mississauga residents who are enrolled in library programs. I could sure use that! I emailed for more information: only full-time students are eligible.

I've come across several other examples of this - student grants, awards, loans that are only available for full-time study.

I don't understand this. I am financially unable to attend school full-time. Why am I penalized for that?


Amy said...

I believe that the reasoning behind it is the assumption that part-time students are earning money by working and so do not need the same financial assistance as full-time students. Of course, there is a circularity to this reasoning. If part-time students could afford to give up working, they would be full-time students getting the financial aid. But part-time students usually cannot afford to stop working even WITH financial aid. So there is obvious unfairness to the policies.

Another possible explanation, not usually articulated, is that schools cannot survive on part-time students. They need full-time students to make the academic institution viable. Thus, resources will go to those full-time students over part-timers in order to ensure a critical mass of full-time students. That may not explain the library or governmental preferences, but rather just the preferences of institutional financial aid.

John Goldfine may have better insights into this than I do.

Cornelia said...

No idea why such a bad political decision was made and why such a legal loophole as regards assistance and protection was made! I can but say I'm sorry.

L-girl said...

Thanks, Amy and Cornelia.

In this case, there is no financial aid available from the institution at all.

I understand schools can't live on part-time students, but the logic makes no sense to me regarding a tax break or a grant from a private foundation. My tuition costs are exactly the same as full-time.

Ah well. It just pisses me off.

impudent strumpet said...

What they really need is an "I will be a full-time student if I get the funding" category, so people who don't have the money can apply for the money.

L-girl said...

You're right that that would help. But for me to be a full-time student, besides tuition, I'd also need income support so I could stop working. Young people living at their parents' homes presumably need much less money.

So even with some financial aid, going f/t would not be practical for me.

hhw said...

I generally interpret this kind of restriction as an attempt to focus on "real" students rather than everyone who feels like taking a class for fun. (I don't agree with this distinction, btw. I think it's based on out-moded ideas of what it means to be a student.)

If there's a need to limit the benefit (another thing up for debate), a slightly fairer way of getting at that difference might be to limit the benefit to students enrolled in a degree program. One of the IRS's education credits is defined that way, IIRC.

L-girl said...

Ah, that makes more sense, in a ridiculous way.

Enrolled in a degree program would be a useful distinction.

I'm really pissed off about the Miss'a FoL award, as it's the only aid I was eligible for (or thought I was).