Letter from the Director: US Direct Loan Funding Affecting US Students at the iSchool at UBC

We at the iSchool are all greatly disturbed by the sudden and unexpected withdrawal of the Direct Loan funding source for US students. We know this affects a number of you and we have been working with UBC’s Enrolment Services to clarify the issue as well as explore ways to support our students.

This recent clarification of the eligibility requirements for Title IV funding (Direct Loans) under the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid program has had a major impact on many our U.S. students as well as students at other Canadian institutions such as Dalhousie University, Concordia and academic institutions around the world. This clarification is directed at the eligibility of online courses and affects U.S. students who have taken online courses and received the Direct Loan funding. Unfortunately it affects current MLIS and DUAL MASLIS students because the required LIBR 500: Foundations of Information Technology is classified as an online course.

How does this affect current students?

UBC Enrolment Services — the UBC unit that manages loans — has been corresponding directly with affected students and continues to assist and prioritize those students affected by this issue to determine financial need and offer solutions. These students have contact information for reaching Enrolment Services personnel who can work with them on their individual cases. We at the iSchool continue to support the efforts made by the University to find solutions for those immediately affected.

How does this affect future SLAIS students?

As part of general curriculum review, we already had in progress a change to our core courses that makes all these on-campus courses. This will have a positive impact for all future U.S. iSchool students seeking the Direct Loan funding as it will align with the U.S. Department of Education’s requirements regarding online courses. Thus, this will not affect incoming US students who start in Fall 2015. They will, however, be unable to take online courses if receiving these funds; we will counsel new U.S. students about this and about course options offered within the School. At present there are relatively few online courses in our school and we do not expect this to adversely affect students’ programs.

We look forward to a resolution to this situation and we continue to work with Enrolment Services to do whatever is possible to help current students.

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