Post-secondary Student Support Program and University and College Entrance Preparation Program: National Guidelines 2022 to 2023

Preamble

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is committed to working collaboratively with Indigenous partners in transforming the way the department adapts and implements policy and program reform. These guidelines are consistent with the terms and conditions that have been discussed with and informed by First Nations convened by the Assembly of First Nations.

On December 3, 2018, the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly passed Resolution #05/2018, which supported the First Nations Post-Secondary Education Policy Proposal to the Government of Canada. In developing the terms and conditions, First Nations partners have noted that they do not view this strategy as a matter of social policy, and have asked that the following statements from the policy proposal be included:

These guidelines will be in place as First Nations proceed with the development of their regional post-secondary education models. These guidelines will be replaced as regional program guidelines are developed by First Nations and agreement is reached with ISC on implementation.

In addition, First Nations have identified that ongoing changes to federal policy and legislation (such as Bill S-3) can put pressure on First Nations governments to make timely and difficult decisions in regards to supporting First Nations students.

These guidelines have been amended in order to be consistent with First Nations control of First Nations education, the First Nations Post-Secondary Education Policy Proposal and the amended 2019 terms and conditions.

Table of contents

Introduction

The Government of Canada is committed to achieving reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through a renewed, nation-to-nation and government-to-government relationship based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership as the foundation for transformative change. The implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples requires transformative change in the government's relationship with Indigenous peoples.

These efforts must be guided by the Government of Canada's obligation to respect and uphold First Nations' inherent, Aboriginal and treaty rights, including those rights to education referenced in specific treaties and self-government agreements.

The nation-to-nation relationship between the Government of Canada and First Nations is rooted in historic treaties, the Numbered Treaties, self-government agreements, section 35, guided by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and informed by the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action.

1. Program introduction

These guidelines include program and eligibility information. ISC regional offices may provide additional details for the delivery of the programs and their services.

Any issues that arise concerning the interpretation of these guidelines will be resolved by the education program directorate with the support of ISC regional offices.

These guidelines set out the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) and University and College Entrance Preparation Program (UCEPP) delivery requirements for funding recipients that enter into a funding agreement with ISC for the delivery of the PSSSP and UCEPP.

These guidelines are effective as of April 1, 2022 and replace the Post-Secondary Student Support Program and University and College Entrance Preparation Program: National Program Guidelines 2021 to 2022.

These guidelines are to be read in conjunction with the funding agreement signed by the funding recipient.

2. Purpose and objectives

2.1 Post-Secondary Student Support Program

The PSSSP provides non-repayable financial support for First Nations (Registered Indian) students to advance towards a recognized post-secondary education credential as prioritized and directed by First Nations. This includes:

  • CEGEP
  • community college
  • undergraduate studies
  • advanced professional
  • post-graduate studies at eligible colleges and universities in Canada and abroad
  • First Nations designated and directed institutions

The program's objectives are to improve socio-economic outcomes for First Nations by supporting First Nations in providing eligible students with funding to access education opportunities at the post-secondary level, consistent with the principle of First Nations control of First Nations education.

The overall aim of the program is to provide inclusive and quality education by closing the education gap between First Nations and non-Indigenous Canadians.

2.2 University and College Entrance Preparation Program

The program objective is to:

  • provide non-repayable financial support for First Nations (Registered Indian) students who are enrolled in accepted university and college entrance preparation programs
  • enable them to attain the academic level required for entrance into degree and diploma credit programs as prioritized and directed by First Nations

If the provisions of a funding agreement are met, a recipient does not have to repay financial support to ISC. As indicated in section 8, recipients may issue local program guidelines for the administration of the PSSSP and the UCEPP, including guidelines regarding the repayment of financial support by students to recipients.

3. Expected results

These programs are expected to enable First Nations students to achieve levels of post-secondary education comparable to non-Indigenous students in Canada.

4. Eligible recipients

Eligible recipients under PSSSP and UCEPP are:

In addition, ISC may also enter into funding agreements with funding agreement managers and recipient appointed advisors in accordance with ISC's default prevention and management policy, to administer PSSSP or UCEPP programming funds jointly with or on behalf of a First Nations community.

In the case where such an agreement does not exist, the regional office in the province or territory where the student is residing is responsible to review and assess the student applications for funding.

5. Eligible students

To be eligible for funding, students:

Applications to ISC's programs are valid for 1 school year only. To find out more about how to apply, visit the post-secondary education page.

Northwest Territories students

The Government of the Northwest Territories (NWT) provides grants and bursaries to NWT residents. Students eligible for NWT support cannot receive funding from PSSSP or UCEPP.

Program recipients must not accept applications from people whose band or community is in NWT unless the student can provide a statement from the NWT government that the student is not eligible for this support from these organizations because the student has not met their residency requirement.

James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) and Northeastern Quebec Agreements (NEQA) students

Students who are eligible for support under The Cree School Board, Kativik Ilisarniliriniq School Board or the Central Québec School Board programs that are resourced by ISC consistent with the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) and the Northeastern Quebec Agreements (NEQA) cannot apply for support under PSSSP or UCEPP unless they have been outside of their territory for more than 10 years.

Program recipients must not accept applications from people whose band or community is in Northern Quebec unless the student can provide a statement from the Cree or Kativik or the Central Québec School Boards that the student is not eligible for this support from these organizations because the student has not met their residency requirement.

6. Eligible components and activities

6.1 Eligible programs

Under the PSSSP and the UCEPP, an eligible program of studies (for example, trades, sciences, arts) is a program:

  • for which the completion of secondary school studies, or the equivalent as recognized by the post-secondary institution or the provincial or territorial ministry of education, is required
  • delivered at an eligible institution as defined in section 6.2

UCEPP programs must provide students with the necessary courses to attain their academic level for post-secondary institution entrance.

Consult Annex 2: List of provincial or territorial ministries of education for information on student admissibility to a program of study.

Delivery method may be in-classroom, e-learning, distant learning or virtual learning as long as it meets all eligibility criteria.

6.2 Eligible institutions

Eligible post-secondary institutions are degree-, diploma- or certificate-granting institutions that are recognized by a province or territory in Canada or abroad.

They include educational institutions affiliated with, or those that deliver post-secondary programs by arrangement with, a post-secondary institution, as well as First Nations designated and directed institutions.

A list of eligible Canadian post-secondary education institutions is available. This list is effective as of April 1, 2015 for new PSSSP or UCEPP students and will be updated and adjusted as necessary on an ongoing basis.

A list of eligible foreign institutions is available. This list is effective as of April 1, 2015 for new PSSSP or UCEPP students and will be updated and adjusted as necessary on an ongoing basis.

If the program of studies is in a foreign institution, the student must provide evidence that it is recognized in Canada as an acceptable post-secondary program of studies.

Additions to approved lists of post-secondary institutions

Where the institution selected by the student is not on ISC's list of eligible post-secondary institutions, the recipient may submit a request to their ISC regional office for the institution to be added.

The regional office will request documentation from the recipient to formulate a recommended action to ISC education branch headquarters for discussion.

6.3 Program requirements

As defined in section 4, Eligible recipients, when locally administering the PSSSP and the UCEPP, recipients must meet the following minimum standards:

  • provision, administration and distribution of funding, within the recipient's budgetary envelope, to eligible post-secondary education students as per the maximum amount payable outlined in section 9.1 Maximum amount payable to students
  • implementation and administration of a selection priority criteria that is publicly available
  • development and implementation of rules for deferring applications in situations where there are more eligible students than funds available
  • implementation and administration of an appeal process that is publicly available

7. Expenditures

7.1 Eligible expenditures

Eligible expenditures for the PSSSP and UCEPP include student grants for academic and living expenses associated with pursuing a post-secondary education credential at an eligible post-secondary institution. These may include but are not limited to:

  • tuition and other student fees
  • initial professional certification and examination fees
  • books and supplies required by the student for their program of study
  • official transcript fees
  • application fees
  • living expenses, including for dependents if applicable
  • expenses associated with travel home, including for dependents if applicable
  • supplemental tutorial, guidance and counseling services
  • child care, as needed
  • scholarship and incentive payments
  • administration costs (as outlined in section 7.1.1, Administration costs)

Retroactive funding is not permitted for studies in a previous fiscal or academic year.

Travel support for students

Travel support does not include moving expenses such as the removal of household effects.

Recipients are encouraged to:

  • ensure students seek economical means for travel
  • set maximum rates for which students are to be funded

Recipients may choose to refer to the rates set for government travel in the National Joint Council Travel Directive to determine eligible travel costs.

Living allowances

  • Living allowance rates will be determined by the recipient. Recipients may choose to refer to the living allowance maximums set by the Canada Student Loans and Grants to determine eligible living costs
  • The living allowances will be paid in Canadian dollars regardless of the location of the institution
  • Living allowances are paid for Christmas and study breaks. Additional time may be allowed for students to settle into accommodations at the place of study at the beginning of the academic year and to move out at the end of the academic year
  • The recipient may provide students an advance of the living allowance, for example rent advances
  • Where a student is provided an advance, the recipient may spread the adjustment over the payment periods of the academic year and make the appropriate deductions from the living allowance for each payment period

7.1.1 Administration costs

Administration costs must not exceed 15% of the sub-total amount requested before administration costs.

Eligible administration costs include only the actual costs associated directly to administer PSSSP and UCEPP. These may include, but are not limited to:

  • salaries and benefits of personnel directly employed in the administration and delivery of the funding. In the case of multiple responsibilities, the portion of the salary to be included under administration costs should be proportional to the amount of time spent fulfilling PSSSP or UCEPP duties
  • materials and resources required for the management of funds
  • rent and utilities
  • printing and communications costs, including web presence
  • travel and accommodation
  • the collection, maintenance and reporting data and information in accordance with program and financial reporting requirements
  • costs associated with ensuring that personal information is appropriately managed and safeguarded during its collection, retention, use, disclosure and disposal

Further distribution of funds by ISC's funding recipients: when a funding recipient further transfers to a third party, funds that were received under these programs, the 15% allowed for administration costs must be divided between the parties, as agreed to between the parties.

The total administration costs retained by all parties must not exceed 15% of the sub-total amount requested before administration costs.

For travel and accommodation: recipients are encouraged to seek economical means for travel.

Recipients may choose to refer to the rates set for government travel in the National Joint Council Travel Directive to determine eligible travel costs.

7.1.2 Eligible tuition

Tuition support may be provided under the following conditions:

  • students attending eligible post-secondary institutions, including compulsory student fees charged by the institution for a student
  • Canadian public post-secondary institutions:
    • the student will provide documentary evidence of tuition, registration and mandatory student fees
    • in exceptional circumstances, tuition support may be paid directly to the student as opposed to directly to the post-secondary institution
  • private and foreign post-secondary institutions:
    • support purposes, students may enroll in any private post-secondary institution recognized by the provincial or territorial ministry of education or in an acceptable program of studies in a foreign institution identified in section 6.2, Eligible institutions

8. Local guidelines

Recipients may issue local program guidelines provided they are consistent with the terms and conditions of the PSSSP and UCEPP and the requirements set out in these guidelines.

Requirements for local guidelines are listed below. All initial recipients commit as part of the funding agreement to providing prospective applicants with ready access to the local guidelines.

Recipients who choose not to issue local guidelines must nonetheless deliver a clear application process for the students applying that includes determining their eligibility and prioritizing the allocation of the resources.

Recipients must make available up to date local guidelines and information about the processes for students applying for financial support and publish these online throughout the year.

Local guidelines may also include rates and allowances for amounts payable to students, provided that they do not exceed the maximum amount payable set out in section 7.1 Eligible expenditures and section 9.1 Maximum amount payable to students.

8.1 Potential selection priorities

Listed below are some examples of priority selection criteria that recipients may consider using in their local operating guidelines:

  • continuing students: students already being funded through PSSSP or UCEPP
  • high school graduates
  • deferred students: eligible but not funded in the past due to limited funding
  • recent post-secondary education graduates who wish to further their studies
  • new students already studying at a post-secondary level
  • returning students
  • part-time students
  • students with a strong academic standing

8.2 Appeal process

To ensure fairness and equitable treatment under the PSSSP and the UCEPP, recipients must have an appeal process in place that is accessible to students and publicly available.

  • The appeal process must include:
    • the existence of an impartial appeal board
    • specific time frames for the appeal hearings to be set and decisions made
    • a governance process confirming that the recipient will abide by the appeal board's decision
  • When an application is approved, rejected or deferred, students must be informed in writing if their application for support was approved or the reasons for rejecting or deferring the application
  • Where a student is convinced that the local or national program guidelines are not being fairly applied to their situation then the student shall have access to an appeal hearing
  • There is no appeal against refusal of assistance because funds are not available
  • The appeal board's ruling must be consistent with the intent of the PSSSP and UCEPP National Program Guidelines
  • The appeal board's decision is final
  • A student may not appeal to ISC the administrative decisions and appeal rulings made by the local appeal process

9. Funding

9.1 Maximum amount payable per student

The maximum amount payable per full-time student under PSSSP or UCEPP cannot exceed $53,000 per year.

The actual amount of funding will depend on the overall amount of funding in the program and the number of recipients selected.

On an extraordinary and justified basis, full-time graduate students in an advanced professional degree program such as dentistry, medicine or a masters or doctoral program, may be awarded funding in excess of $53,000 up to a maximum of $90,000 per year.

Such awards may be:

  • granted by special request on a case-by-case basis only as determined by the recipient
  • considered when a graduate student has extraordinary circumstances that warrant overriding the standard policy on maximum amounts payable

Part-time students, as defined by their post-secondary institution, may receive assistance for tuition and fees and the cost of books and supplies.

Part-time students may be awarded assistance for living allowances or travel, typically at a prorated amount, as determined by the recipient.

This is a maximum allowable payment per student. No student is automatically entitled to this amount.

The maximum amount was established to ensure that the most extreme circumstances could be funded as necessary.

The actual amount of funding available to a student will depend on the overall amount of funding available in the program and for each recipient.

9.2 Funding approaches

Transfer payments to funding recipients of the PSSSP and UCEPP may be made using fixed, flexible or block contribution, or a grant, depending on the eligibility of the recipient and of the service to be delivered.

Set funding may be used if the recipient so wishes.

ISC regional officers can advise on the eligibility of these funding approaches as well as on the requirements related to the management of the funds.

The funding approach used to transfer funds to a recipient is identified in the recipient's signed funding agreement.

The following specific program directions for the management of transfer payments complement the directions provided in the recipient's signed funding agreement and are to be read in conjunction with the funding agreement.

Set contribution funding

Reallocation of funding:

Reallocation of funds is not allowed with transfer payments made using set contribution.

Fixed contribution funding

Reallocation of funding:

During the fiscal year, recipients may reallocate funds between the PSSSP functional area and the UCEPP functional area. Reallocation of funds toward the administration post-secondary functional area is not allowed.

Unexpended funding:

Recipients may retain unexpended funding from a fiscal year, to expend in the 1 year period immediately following the fiscal year for which it was provided, on eligible activities and expenditures outlined in these guidelines.

Flexible contribution funding

Reallocation of funding:

During the fiscal year, recipients may reallocate funds between the PSSSP functional area and the UCEPP functional area. Reallocation of funds toward the administration post-secondary functional area is not allowed.

Unexpended funding:

Recipients may retain unexpended funding remaining at the end of each fiscal year, to expend in a subsequent fiscal year to further achieve results toward the program objective.

10. Reporting requirements and monitoring and oversight activities

10.1 Reporting requirements

The reporting requirements for program and financial reports and their respective due dates are listed in the recipient's funding agreement and details on these requirements are available in the Reporting Guide.

Recipients must report on all funds received and expended, including the use of unexpected funding they were allowed to retain to use in another fiscal year. Consult section 9.2 Funding approaches for details on the use of retained unexpected funds.

Recipients who have access to the ISC Services Portal can access the reporting forms by opening a session on the portal. Recipients who do not have access to the portal should contact their regional office.

All recipient reporting requirements are subject to monitoring and oversight activities to determine the accuracy of the information provided to ISC.

10.2. Monitoring and accountability

To ensure that the programs outcomes and objectives are being met and opportunities for continuous improvement with a goal to improve results for First Nations peoples are being identified, activities may be conducted in collaboration with the recipient. Activities may include:

  • audits
  • evaluations
  • targeted program reviews

11. Personal information

ISC's collection and use of personal information and other records for the purposes of targeted program reviews (for example, desk and on-site reviews) will be limited to what is necessary to ensure the programs delivery requirements are met.

Refer to Annex 3 for more information about requirements for student record files.

ISC is responsible for all information and records in its possession. The confidentiality of the information will be managed by ISC in accordance with the Privacy Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. P-21 and other related policies on privacy.

Recipients are responsible for the protection of personal information as per applicable provincial privacy statutes and regulations and the recipient's policies up to the point that the personal information it is transferred to ISC.

12. Accountability

ISC is committed to providing assistance to recipients in order to help them effectively carry out their obligations under these guidelines and their funding agreements.

Regional offices and other ISC contacts are available to answer questions and provide guidance related to ISC programs and funding.

Recipients must:

ISC is accountable to provide funding to First Nations in a timely manner through contributions payments under the First Nations Post-Secondary Education Strategy.

13. Contact information

To find out more about the programs, visit:

The regional offices contact information can be found on the regional offices page.

You can also write to:

Education Branch
Indigenous Services Canada
10 rue Wellington
Gatineau QC K1A 0H4
Email: education-education@sac-isc.gc.ca

For more information about education programs, consult the National Program Guidelines or click on the View Instructions button on the first page of the Annual Register of Post-Secondary Education Students' data collection instrument.

Annex 1: Glossary

Academic year
defined by the post-secondary institution.
Band
defined by the Indian Act.
Canadian public institution
a post-secondary institution that receives the majority of its funding from federal and provincial governments.
CÉGEP
an abbreviation of Collège d'enseignement général et professionnel. CÉGEPs operate in Quebec.
Dependent
a person who is dependent upon the student as defined by Canada Revenue Agency and who does not receive income in excess of income allowed for a dependent spouse by Canada Revenue Agency.
Dependent spouse
a person who is married to the student or a person who has lived with the student as husband or wife for a period of at least one year prior to application for educational support. This person is dependent upon the student and does not receive income in excess of the level of income allowed for a dependent spouse by Canada Revenue Agency.
Full-time students and part-time students
defined by the post-secondary institution. Note that short term intensive summer programs may qualify at full time.
Post-secondary education
means a program of studies, offered by a eligible post-secondary institution, for which completion of secondary school studies or its equivalent is a prerequisite.
Post-secondary institutions
degree, diploma, and certificate granting institutions that are recognized by a province or territory in Canada or abroad. They include educational institutions affiliated with, or delivering accredited post-secondary programs by arrangement with a post-secondary institution, as well as First-Nations-designated and directed institutions.
Private post-secondary institution
a Canadian or foreign post-secondary institution which receives the majority of its funding from sources other than governments.
Program of studies
includes all post-secondary programs, at least, leading to a certificate, diploma or degree. Programs less than one academic year which are prerequisites to post-secondary programs of at least one academic year are included.
Recipient
an administering organization in receipt of funds intended to finance the PSSSP and UCEPP in accordance with the national program guidelines. This may be:
  • band councils of recognized First Nations
  • organizations designated by band councils
    • bands or settlements
    • tribal councils
    • education organizations
    • political or treaty organizations engaged by or on behalf of First Nations
  • other First Nations organizations which have responsibility for the administration of the program or a portion of it.
Semester
a part of the academic year, as defined by the post-secondary institutions. Semesters usually cover the periods from September to December, January to April, and May to August. The number of semesters, period and length are defined by the individual institutions.
Student
an individual who has successfully applied to be funded under the PSSSP or UCEPP and fulfills the conditions of the programs in order to receive financial support to successfully attain a recognized post-secondary education credential.
Treaty or status Indian and Indian
a person whose name has been entered in the Indian Registry maintained by ISC as defined by the Indian Act.

Annex 2: List of provincial or territorial Ministries of Education websites

Atlantic

Quebec

Ontario

Manitoba

Saskatchewan

Alberta

British Columbia

Yukon

Northwest Territories

Nunavut

Annex 3: Student record files

Student information Yes No Notes
Name of applicant
Indian registry number
Address and contact information
Marital status
Dependents information
Previous education history
Proof of admission
Post-secondary education eligible institution
Eligible program of studies
Length of program
Required books and supplies list
Academic standing
Tuition and fees receipts
Books and supplies receipts
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